Kosovo’s chief state prosecutor told BIRN that although an arrest warrant for powerful Serb businessman Milan Radoicic was withdrawn, he is still being investigated over the murder of political rival Oliver Ivanovic.
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Kosovo’s Chief State Prosecutor Aleksander Lumezi. Photo: BIRN.
Chief State Prosecutor Aleksander Lumezi said on Wednesday evening that the arrest warrant for Milan Radoicic, suspected of being one of the heads of a criminal organsiation that murdered political party leader Oliver Ivanovic in January 2018, was withdrawn for “technical and tactical reasons” but insisted that “the criminal case against him continues”.
“This is a very serious case. Milan Radoicic was investigated in the case of the murder of Oliver Ivanovic, alongside some other people. There is a decision to continue investigations into him,” Lumezi told BIRN Kosovo’s TV show ‘Kallxo Pernime’.
Radoicic, a powerful businessman and vice-president of the Belgrade-backed Srpska Lista political party, has denied any involvement in the killing of Ivanovic, who was gunned down outside his party’s office in the divided Kosovo city of Mitrovica. 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.
In March last year, a judge at Pristina Basic Court confirmed the case prosecutor’s request to withdraw the arrest warrant for Radoicic, who had fled to Serbia to avoid being caught. With the threat of arrest lifted, Radoicic returned to Mitrovica several days later.
Radoicic was accused in the prosecutor’s indictment of being the leader of the criminal group that organised the murder, along with another Kosovo Serb businessman, Zvonko Veselinovic, who has also denied any involvement.
A trial is underway of six other people accused of either abetting the crime or evidence-tampering. However, the names of Radoicic and Veselinovic have been repeatedly mentioned during the proceedings.
Radoicic and Veselinovic are also on a US blacklist for leading an organised group suspected of bribery and smuggling.
Justifying the decision to withdraw the arrest warrant, Lumezi said that it happened “before the American list, and many other people from Kosovo are on the list but we have never started investigations into them.
“I cannot make public the steps that were taken to withdraw Radoicic’s arrest warrant because it is a work in process and we will have results but they must be supported by evidence and facts,” he insisted.
He revealed that Radoicic has already been interviewed, but as a witness rather than as a suspect.
“We have interviewed him as a witness… via a link… but I cannot reveal everything here,” he said.
Radoicic’s high-level political connections in Belgrade have made the case very politically sensitive. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic even declared in July 2019 that Radoicic is innocent.
In a sign of how close Radoicic is to the Serbian leadership, he was photographed sitting next to Vucic at a meeting in Belgrade on March 23.
Before his murder, Ivanovic, the leader of the Freedom, Democracy, Justice political party, he had become increasingly vocal in his criticism of the Belgrade government.
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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