EULEX extends Ivanovic's detention until October
The detention of Civic Initiative SDP leader Oliver Ivanovic has been extended until October 6, said his wife Milena Popovic-Ivanovic.Source: Tanjug
She told Tanjug on Thursday that the decision was made by a panel of EULEX judges from the Municipal Court in Kosovska Mitrovica, and that the request filed by Ivanovic's lawyers to set him free pending the end of the trial was rejected as unfounded.
"This EULEX decision is scandalous, I did not expect that this time as well they would extend my husband's detention, because none of the previous 45 witnesses accused him directly of the offenses he has been charged with," Popovic-Ivanovic said.
So far 45 prosecution witness have been heard during the trial conducted in Kosovska Mitrovica, where Ivanovic - a politician from northern Kosovo and former Serbian official - and four others Serbs stand accused of war crimes committed against civilians in 1999. The trial is scheduled to resume on September 10.
The Serbian government has given guarantees that Ivanovic, if released, will be available to the judiciary at all times, but the EU mission in Kosovo, EULEX, said he could influence the witnesses.
Other defendants include retired MUP colonel Dragoljub Delibasic, father and son Ilija and Nebojsa Vujacic, and Aleksandar Lazovic, who are charged with murder and attempted murder.
EULEX on Wednesday released Nebojsa Vujacic and Aleksandar Lazovic pending the outcome of the trial, while Ilija Vujacic has been free since the beginning of the process.
The international panel of judges is presided over by Romanian Judge Roxana Comsa. All five Serbs indicted in the case have pleaded not guilty.
In his reaction to Thursday's news, Director of the Serbian Government's Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric said EULEX's decision represented "yet more proof that this is a politically motivated process, that has nothing to do with the law or justice."
Djuric also expressed his "disappointment and indignation," and said he found it "incomprehensible" that the judges did not take into account either the fact that dozens of prosecution witnesses heard so far had in effect testified in Ivanovic' favor, or the guarantees given by the Serbian government.
Djuric also said he was "very concerned" that this decision meant the pressure continued on the Ivanovic family and the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija at a "very sensitive moment" for the Serb-Albanian relations in the province. He described Ivanovic as a politician "dedicated with his whole being to democracy, and one of the most sincere and convincing critics of all forms of political extremism."
According to Djuric, it is ironic that such a person has been subjected to a kind of injustice "that exists nowhere in civilized Europe."
"I am certain that the political climate in Kosovo and Metohija would be much better today had Ivanovic not been temporarily removed from the political life, in a violent and premeditated manner," Djuric concluded.