„Today around 08:20h, the Kosovo Police in Northern Mitrovica were informed about an armed attack on Mr Oliver Ivanovic…“ (Besim Hoti, The Deputy Police Commander of Kosovo Police, the region „North“)
„…Heart function was not restored and death was announced at 09:15 am“. (Milan Ivanovic, the head of hospital in North Mitrovica)
„This is very tragic news and everyone is shocked, we did not expect it“. (Ramush Haradinaj, Kosovo Prime Minister)
„There were thousands of people in the streets following the coffin as it headed for Belgrade. I think that shows the respect in which the man was held. And he was not corrupt, because for many politicians here in Kosovo that allegation comes very easily. He was not corrupt. He was dedicated. He was decent“. (Jan Braathu, OSCE Head in Kosovo)
„I can only say that whoever shot Oliver made him immortal. Mitrovica has lost the best one“. (Nevenka Medic, a North Mitrovica citizen)
The upper comments were included in the recently released Al Jazeera movie „Murder in Mitrovica: People and Power“ by Glenn Ellis and Mark Vesovic, on the murder of the most prominent Serbian politician from Kosovo, five months after his killing.
„Oliver Ivanovic had been one of the most significant political figures in northern Kosovo for neary two decades, championing the cause of the Serbian minority while stressing the importance of remaining part of Kosovo rather than rejoining Serbia,“ narrates the film while showing video archive footage of Oliver Ivanovic talking at a rally shortly after the war:
„Many Serbs live in the south and we are very very upset about these Serbs and we try also to keep Serbs in the south. If we separate Kosovo, we cannot succeed in doing so. We are against the separation.“
„He advocated very strongly for the Serbian community in Kosovo but all the while was open for dialogue with Kosovo Albanian political leaders as well. His murder is a tremendous loss“, said the OSCE Head in Kosovo.
The film also reminds us of the months that preceeded the murder. He and his family were the victims of sustained attacks. His car was torched and there were threatening phone calls.
„They would say I know you, I have a message for the candidate. Tell him to withdraw from the election. Otherwise he will face unforseeable consequnces… He called the director of Kosovo Police in Pristina and asked for help. However, nobody responded for obvious reasons“. (Ksenija Bozovic, Ivanovic’s first party associate)
„We have been through some difficult times in the past years. First his car was blown away. Then his office, where his party premises were, it was on fire. Then my appartment was broken into, when I was there alone“. (Milena Popovic, Ivanovic’s wife)
„There is only one thing that some people don’t like and that’s my political activity. This made me think and I should investigate why, did I step onto someone’s toes, or whose interests did I jeopardise? How did I endanger someone’s interest“? (Oliver Ivanovic talking to the press after his car was torched)
The film reminds the viewers of the messages conveyed in public after the murder as well:
„I came here to tell Albanians, Serbia not only wants peace, but it will do its best to preserve it. We will do everything“. (Aleksandar Vucic, the President of Serbia in Banjska monastery in North Kosovo)
„Our fellow citizen is being taken away, they fabricated lies about him, who is here to help us. Help us, we believe in you“. (a female citizen waiting for Vucic in the lobby of Technical Faculty in North Mitrovica)
Oliver Ivanovic was sentenced to nine years in prison. But even among those with no axe to grind, the case raised an eyebrow:
„I was suprirised that he was indicted in the first place. My understanding was that the evidence was not that particularly strong, and circumstantial.“ (Jan Braathu)
„There are dozens of Albanians who have said they have seen him being part of these gangs who committed crimes, so I am not sure that he was innocent“. (Albin Kurti, Vetevendosje)
„EULEX spent millions of euros a day. When it arrived, hopes and expectations were huge, but justice is something that is not imported“. (Albin Kurti, Vetevendosje)
Ivanovic’s murder ultimately lies in the hands of a largely Serbian-influenced northern Mitrovica police force, an institution Ivanovic frequently criticised.
„We have many questions, not just the killing but also the police response…. There are strange things (that happened)“, said the OSCE Head.
„I regret only that we were not allowed to see the recordings before anyone else“, said the Ivanovic’s political associate.
„I am determined to build a Kosovo with an army as soon as possible“. (Hashim Thaci, Kosovo President)
„We expect further equipping (of the military). We are a small country outside of military alliances which wants to preserve its peace, its freedom, its soverignty“. (Aleksandar Vucic, President of Serbia)
It may be some time yet before Oliver Ivanovic’s dreams for dialogue and reconciliation are ever realised.
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