The brother of Oliver Ivanovic testified in court that the Kosovo Serb politician was murdered in 2018 for standing up against the main Belgrade-backed political party in Kosovo.
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The trial for the murder of Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic on Wednesday. Photo: BIRN.
Miroslav Ivanovic, the brother of the murdered Oliver Ivanovic, told Pristina Basic Court that he believes that the Kosovo Serb politician was killed four years ago for political reasons.
“It is certain there was no other reason but a political one,” said Miroslav Ivanovic, a former judge at the Mitrovica Court of Appeals, who testified on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The conflicts he had that involved the most aggression were directed towards [Belgrade-backed Kosovo Serb party] Srpska Lista, as a political organisation. [The disputes’] essence was political, specifically over the elections for mayor of Mitrovica,” he added.
Ivanovic ran as a candidate for mayor of Serb-dominated North Mitrovica in the 2017 municipal elections in Kosovo, and said at the time that he was being threatened.
He was murdered on January 16, 2018, in front of the offices of his Freedom, Democracy, Justice political party. Before his murder, he had become increasingly vocal in his criticism of the Belgrade government, which has huge influence over Kosovo Serbs.
He had also complained about the power of Serb organised crime gangs in Mitrovica – people he described as “local bullies and gangsters”.
His brother Miroslav told the court that Serb businessman Milan Radoicic, who is suspected by prosecutors of involvement in the murder but has not been charged, actually had power over Srpska Lista despite not being an official party member at that time.
“I have seen many people with the greatest influence in Mitrovica going to Milan Radoicic during working hours, giving him reports,” Miroslav Ivanovic testified, explaining that this included people from Srpska Lista.
“Even Oliver talked about this, the informal centres of power. People from Srpska Lista went to them [Radoicic and his associates]to report. They had influence in all the Mitrovica institutions,” he said.
The indictment in the case accused Ivanovic’s political rival Radoicic, a powerful businessman who later became vice-president of Srpska Lista, of being the leader of the criminal group that organised the murder, together with another Kosovo Serb businessman, Zvonko Veselinovic. Both have denied any involvement and neither man is on trial.
In an interview with BIRN not long before his death, Ivanovic described Radoicic, a truck company owner and debt collector, as the real power-holder in the Serb-majority north of Kosovo. Ivanovic also said several times before he was killed that he and his family had received threats.
In the trial, four defendants – Marko Rosic, Silvana Arsovic, Rade Basara and Nedeljko Spasojevic – are accused of abetting the murder, and two policemen, Dragisa Markovic and Zarko Jovanovic, are accused of evidence-tampering.
Ivanovic was once seen as a hardline nationalist, but before his death had evolved into a political moderate who advocated coexistence between Kosovo’s Serb minority and Albanian majority.
At the time of his death, he was being retried for ordering the murder of Kosovo Albanians during the war in Kosovo in 1999. He pleaded not guilty.
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