Kosovo: War crimes charges dropped against slain Ivanovic
One month after the murder of Oliver Ivanovic, the Basic Court in Kosovska Mitrovica has formally ended the case where he stood accused of war crimes.Source: B92, RTS
According to RTS - which cited the Pristina-based website Kallxo - the court decided to dismiss the indictment for war crimes against Ivanovic, a Serb politician from northern Kosovo.
Ivanovic and four other Serbs were detained in January 2014 for allegedly committing war crimes. He was accused by the Kosovo Prosecutor with crimes against civilians in Kosovo and Metohija, committed in 1999 and 2000.
A 50-plus--page indictment was raised in November 2014. At the start of the trial, Ivanovic and the other four Serbs categorically rejected all allegations from the indictment. "I'm absolutely not guilty," Ivanovic said on December 18, 2014.
The Prosecution proposed a large number of witnesses, stated the names of the victims and the places where the accused Serbs allegedly committed the criminal acts. The indictment alleges, among other things, that Ivanovic issued orders to paramilitary formations and led the bridge guards in Kosovska Mitrovica, and that he carried automatic weapons, pistols and two large knives on that occasion.
His defense emphasized that the indictment had no basis and that his human rights had been severely violated. "This is about the events of 15 years ago, the investigation has only been carried out now, and in the meantime the accused Serbs have been detained for a year and their rights are endangered," it was said at that time.
Defense lawyers for the other accused Serbs pointed out at the time that the indictment was "disappointing" because the testimonies were based on statements published by newspapers, lacking any concrete evidence.
Oliver Ivanovic started a hunger strike on August 7, 2015, demanding to be released pending the outcome of the trial, and was on August 14 transferred to a hospital in Kosovska Mitrovica due to ill health.
In February 2017, the first-instance (guilty) verdict passed against him was overturned, and a new trial ordered. After this he was under house detention, until he was released in April 2017, pending the outcome of the trial.
Ivanovic was gunned down on January 16, 2018, in front of his party's premises in Kosovska Mitrovica.