Kurti then: Oliver was a war criminal, Kurti now: Oliver worked for the multi-ethnicity of Kosovo

Five years have passed since the murder of the Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic. No perpetrators or instigators have yet to be found, the trial is being conducted according to an amended indictment, and protected witnesses keep refusing to testify as their identities are revealed, fearing for their safety. All those who have been in custody until were released on their own recognizance. Oliver Ivanovic worked for multi-ethnic Kosovo, Kosovan PM Albin Kurti said on Monday. Just three years ago, Kurti claimed that Ivanovic was a war criminal.

For the first time, the Prime Minister of Kosovo paid tribute to the slain Kosovo Serbian leader. In a video message, in Serbian, he only had words of praise for Ivanovic.

„Oliver Ivanovic was a person dedicated to the interests of his community and town. He did this by being open, honest, always harsh on issues of importance, but also respectful of those with whom he disagreed,“ reads part of Kurti’s message.

He emphasized that he wants the memory of Ivanovic to live on – as the memory of a man who worked for the sustainable future and multi-ethnicity of Kosovo. Furthermore, he expresses regret that the perpetrators and instigators of this crime have not yet been brought to justice.

„We need the commitment of all relevant institutions to find and convict those responsible for his murder,“ he said.

According to the Prime Minister of Kosovo, the memory of Oliver Ivanovic will be preserved by:

„Kosovo being persistent in its commitment to be a multicultural and multiethnic society where people feel safe, can speak their minds, and treat each other with respect, even if they disagree.“

Oliver’s assassination, he claims, affected the whole of society.

This crime killed not only Oliver Ivanovic, but also political pluralism among Serbs

In the past, however, Kurti described Ivanovic as a war criminal – the same claims he reiterated after Ivanovic was murdered.

In an interview with Jugoslav Cosic, the former director of N1 television, at Cosic’s insistence that he referred to Ivanovic as a war criminal – Kurti continued to speak about Bernard Kushner’s book in which he allegedly claimed this, the guardians of the bridge, saying that he believes that Oliver Ivanovic „changed sides from Belgrade’s point of view and started cooperating with EULEX“.

For example, immediately after the murder of Oliver Ivanovic, Kurti continued to talk about what Self-Determination itself emphasized even before the murder.

In an interview for Life in Kosovo (Kallxo), he said that one of the reasons why Ivanovic was murdered could be his involvement in war crimes.

„Because of the court sentence and the many witnesses who saw Oliver Ivanovic in different paramilitary formations… criminal among other things, he is also a witness to that crime and someone could eliminate him precisely as a witness to that crime at a time when he had a very bad relationship with Vucic,“ Kurti said at the time.

In an interview with TV1 in Sarajevo, three months after the murder, he said: „It is clear that he was Vucic’s enemy. I believe that Oliver Ivanovic was also a war criminal. EULEX war crimes judges sentenced him to nine years. However, he was such a criminal, who most likely regretted his actions and perhaps agreed to become a witness, to testify about Serbian crimes – committed in Kosovo during the war.“

Oliver Ivanovic, the leader of GI SDP, was gunned down with six shots to the back on January 16th, 2018, in North Mitrovica. The perpetrators and instigators have not yet been identified and prosecuted, despite several announcements made by top Kosovo and Serbian officials with specific deadlines for an epilogue of this case.

On the other hand, proceedings are still being conducted according to the third indictment before the special department of the Basic Court in Pristina against those accused of involvement in the murder of Oliver Ivanovic.

The first arrests took place after the murder – on February 11th, when two police officers were arrested on the suspicion of tampering with evidence at the scene, but they were reinstated a few months later. One of them was arrested again on November 23rd, 2018, along with two other persons.

The first indictment was filed on December 2nd, 2019, against six persons who were already arrested at the time (as well as the secretary of Oliver Ivanovic), and a warrant was issued for four more persons. The indictment was revised two more times at the end of December 2019 and in November 2020. However, it was harshly criticized for being “weak” and the court process was described as remarkably slow.

Marko Rosic, Nedeljko Spasojevic, Silvana Arsovic and Rade Basara are now on the dock for participating in an organized criminal group linked to the murder of Ivanovic. Dragisa Markovic and Zarko Jovanovic are accused of abuse of office.

In early June, the Judicial Council of the Basic Court in Pristina, after three years and seven months, ordered the three defendants Marko Rosic, Nedeljko Spasojevic, and Rade Basara to be placed under house arrest. In November, this measure was replaced with them having to report to the Kosovo Police once a week.

Milan Radoicic and Zvonko Veselinovic are mentioned in all the indictments, including the third, as the leaders of the criminal group linked to the murder of Ivanovic.

The investigation into Veselinovic was launched in April 2019, when the name of Milan Mihailovic was added to the list of persons to be investigated.

An ethnic Serb with the initials M.M., who was wanted since 2019 for involvement in the murder of Ivanovic, was arrested in October 2022, based on the order of the Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office.

Also, in December 2021, the US Treasury Office’s of Foreign Assets Control decided to add 13 businessmen and people from the north to its SDN list, including several persons listed in the indictment: Milan Radoicic, Zvonko Veselinovic, Zarko Veselinovic, Zeljko Bojic, Marko Rosic and Milan Mihailovic.

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