EULEX: Simmons’ allegation that he was pushed to move forward the Ivanovic case cannot be corroborated

The former EULEX judge, Malcolm Simmons’s allegation that in 2017 the Head of Mission pushed him to move forward the Ivanovic case cannot be corroborated – reads the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) reaction to the claims Simmons recently presented before Kosovan Assembly, while speaking of purported irregularities and corruption in the work of EULEX.

Simmons said this Monday that EULEX was tasked with removing „big fish“ from the political scene. He also mentioned the slain Kosovo Serbian politician Oliver Ivanovic in that context.

The former EULEX judge said in his testimony this week that EULEX power centers „wanted to politically eliminate a Serb politician who spoke openly against the Serbian government and their subordinates in Kosovo at the time“ and whom EULEX prosecuted for alleged war crimes.

„The head of the mission forced me to initiate the case of Oliver Ivanovic. He clearly told me that he did not want Ivanovic to run in the next local elections in Kosovo,“ Simmons told Kosovo MPs.

Today, EULEX reacted to Simmons’ claims regarding Ivanovic’s case, noting that EULEX judges and prosecutors operated under the principle of independence.

“During its executive mandate, EULEX judges and prosecutors operated under the principle of independence.“

As President of EULEX judges, they added, Simmons was aware of all judicial activities, participated in directing and supervising the work of EULEX judges.

They also stated that Simmons evaluated their performance and participated in the selection of judges and in case allocation, including in the Ivanovic case.

“Simmons’s allegation that in 2017 the Head of Mission pushed him to move forward the Ivanovic case cannot be corroborated.”

According to EULEX, the work of the Mission’s management was to prioritize, direct and manage the work of all units, including the unit headed by Simmons.

This was done in order to ensure judges and prosecutors delivered efficiently and timely on their tasks, especially when the management was aware that EULEX judges were in Kosovo but hearings were not being scheduled, they add.

“The management of the Mission had the right to inquire about the timing and scheduling of a trial, in particular when there were practical, logistical or security-related implications, as well as human rights issues that may have affected judicial proceedings.”

This mission notes that this is normal management practice of any judicial body or organization.

Addressing Simmons’ allegation that the head of the mission “clearly told him that he does not want Ivanovic to run in the local elections in Kosovo,” EULEX recalled that Oliver Ivanovic did take part in the November 2017 elections.

“Finally, as you may know, Oliver Ivanovic did take part in the November 2017 elections.  Simmons’s allegations, like so many of his statements, are therefore unfounded.”

The family of the slain Oliver Ivanovic also commented on Malcolm Simmons’ allegations.

Unlike EULEX, judge Miroslav Ivanovic, the brother of Oliver Ivanovic, recently told the Nova newspaper that Judge Simmons’ statement is something that should be highlighted at the moment.

Speaking about the proceedings that EULEX was conducting against Oliver, he indicated that he had received information from a journalist after the murder – that the Head of Mission had told him in an informal conversation that Oliver’s trial had been rigged.

„All this confirms our claims that the whole thing was fabricated and that the whole story about Oliver had a political background even then, that Oliver was to be prevented, stopped in his candidacy for mayor and that Oliver as a political leader at that time did not suit them,“ said Miroslav Ivanovic.

The same claims were presented today by Oliver Ivanovic’s nephew, lawyer Aleksandar Ivanovic in a statement for the Beta news agency

Aleksadar Ivanovic said that the statement of former EULEX judge Malcolm Simmons is not something the family did not already know.

Ivanovic told the Beta news agency that the family knew from the very beginning that it was all rigged to remove Oliver from political life.

Oliver Ivanovic was shot dead on January 16th, 2018, in front of the premises of his office in the center of North Mitrovica.

Four years earlier – in January of 2014, he was arrested on suspicion of having committed a war crime, and he was tried in a trial conducted by the EULEX Trial Chamber.

Ivanovic was sentenced to nine years in prison. After spending almost three and a half years in custody, and less than a year before he was assassinated, Ivanovic was released to defend himself from freedom in a retrial.

After his release from prison, and the decision to participate in the Kosovo elections with his civic initiative, he was stigmatized both in the media and politically by the same structures managed or controlled by the largest party of Kosovo Serbs – Srpska Lista. Ivanovic’s car was also set on fire.

In the meantime, after the assassination, the procedure against Ivanovic was officially suspended.

There is a widespread belief among the public, including a significant part of the international community, especially those who cooperated with Ivanovic over the years, that Ivanovic’s trial was unfair and rigged. The same claims were presented by Ivanovic himself from the first day of his detention.

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