Montenegrin citizen arrested in Gazimestan remanded for month-long custod

Rista Jovanović

Risto Jovanovic, a citizen of Montenegro, who was arrested during the celebration of Vidovdan in Gazimestan, was remanded in custody for a period of 30 days in Pristina today. Jovanovic is accused of committing the crime of „inciting national and religious hatred and intolerance“.

„The decision on detention is unjustified and there is no condition provided by the law on criminal procedure for ordering detention,“ Jovanovic’s lawyer Jovana Filipovic told KoSSev, noting that she specified this to the judge.

At the same time, Filipovic alleged that there is no intent or evidence of the crime Jovanovic is charged with, adding that she also explained that to the judge.

„It was clarified that he never spread religious hatred. I even quoted the statement that Jovanovic gave to RTV Kim, which the prosecutor used as material evidence, to the court. He said that he respects his religion, but also other religions, his nation, but also other nations and that he will always provide support for any Orthodox people wherever they are in the world,“ said Filipovic.

She stressed that Jovanovic’s statement was misinterpreted and presented as spreading hatred.

„It is unclear to everyone how this is ‘spreading hatred’ because he just said that he loves his faith and respects other faiths.“

Jovanovic will be placed in custody in North Mitrovica, and his lawyer will appeal the decision on the detention of the Basic Court in Pristina tomorrow.

Earlier today, after Judge Vlora Pacolli read the indictment, Jovanovic pleaded not guilty. He also underlined that he „did not come to spread hatred,” noting that he also visited Kosovo two years ago and that he “had no problems.”

The prosecutor, however, requested an extension of detention, due to risk of escape.

The Montenegrin ambassador to Kosovo, Mirsad Bibovic, also attended Jovanovic’s hearing today.

Jovanovic was questioned yesterday in the Basic Prosecutor’s Office, and his lawyer, Jovana Filipovic, told the media that the hearing was then scheduled for today.

„Bearing in mind that the prosecutor has not submitted a request for extension of detention until today, we hope that the judge will grant him parole,“ Filipovic stated at the time.

She also visited Jovanovic yesterday, noting that he had several bruises on his hands, incurred during the arrest, but also that he told her that he has been treated well while in detention.

Risto Jovanovic from Podgorica was arrested by the Kosovo police on June 28th in Gazimestan.

As RTV KiM reported at the time, the Kosovo Police arrested Jovanovic because he objected to the police wanting to search a bag of a nun who was coming out of the yard of the memorial complex in Gazimestan.

Kosovo media presented different allegations, however, claiming that this young man was arrested for „singing provocative songs“.

The Kosovo police then issued a statement stating that Jovanovic’s arrest in Gazimestan was the result of him „causing discord and intolerance.“ The police also announced that all actions related to Jovanovic would be taken in cooperation with the prosecutor.

On the same day, the Montenegrin Prime Minister, Zdravko Krivokapic reacted, calling on the authorities in Pristina to announce whether they arrested a Montenegrin citizen during the celebration of Vidovdan in Gazimestan and if so – to specify the reason behind the arrest.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro also reacted, announcing that their embassy in Kosovo will undertake all necessary activities with the Kosovo authorities, in order to protect Jovanovic.

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