Moderate Kosovo Serb leader gunned down in assassination

World Today

A picture taken on May 5, 2017 shows the leading Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic during an interview for the AFP in his office in north Mitrovica. Ivanovic was killed in a brazen drive-by shooting on January 16, 2018, in the north of Mitrovica. The assassination of Ivanovic – who was facing a retrial on war crimes charges over the 1990s Kosovo conflict – occurred on the very day that Belgrade and Pristina resumed talks on normalising ties after a hiatus of more than a year. (AFP PHOTO / Armend Nimani)

A Serbian politician was gunned down in his hometown of Mitrovica in Kosovo. In the wake of the murder, Belgrade broke off EU-sponsored talks with Kosovo.

CGTN’s Aljosa Milenkovic reports from Belgrade.
Follow Aljosa Milenkovic on Twitter @AljosaCGTN

Attackers in a moving vehicle shot Oliver Ivanovic outside his party’s headquarters in Mitrovica. Doctors tried to resuscitate Ivanovic for 45 minutes, but to no avail.

“For the Serbian state, this is an act of terrorism and we’ll address it accordingly,” Aleksandar Vucic said from Belgrade.

According to the leader, his government is asking to participate in the investigation, saying he wants to get to the bottom of this “assassination.”

This was not the first time Ivanovic has faced violence. Just a few months ago, his personal car was torched in an arson attack in the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica.

Kosovo police officers and forensics walk paste the crime scene where the leading Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic was killed in a brazen drive-by shooting in Mitrovica on January 16, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Armend NIMANI)

“It is a question what they wanted to achieve with his assassination,” according to political analyst and Serbian MP Milovan Drecun. “We can’t rule out that someone had been planning this for a long time, and wanted to delay the process of the normalization of relations, currently being held in Brussels, as well as postpone the creation of a Serbian municipalities association in Kosovo.”

Despite his moderate political views, 15 years after the NATO intervention in Kosovo, Ivanovic was arrested for alleged war crimes committed in 1999. In the subsequent trial, he was first sentenced to a five-year prison term, but a higher court later overturned this verdict.

Kosovo declared its independence after the NATO bombardment of Serbia in 1999, and is supported by the US and the EU. Half of the world’s nations refuse to accept Kosovo’s secession, including Russia, China, and India.