Oliver Ivanovic, a 60 -year-old leading Kosovo Serb politician has been sentenced to nine years imprisonment for war crimes by judges from the EU’s rule of law mission. He was detained in January 2014.
He was convicted for ordering the murder of ethnic Albanians by Serb paramilitary forces during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, when he was allegedly the leader of a paramilitary police unit in Mitrovica in April 1999.
Ivanovic, who is considered a political moderate, had denied the charges. Judge Comsa decided not to send Ivanovic to prison immediately but instead ordered house arrest until the appeals process is over.
Serbia’s deputy PM Rasim Ljajic said the verdict would heighten tensions in Kosovo.
“Those Serbs living in Kosovo will start thinking: “If Ivanovic, a pro-democracy advocate, deserved this, then what about us?” He also added
“For sure, the situation in Kosovo will worsen. The verdict is politically motivated rather than based on the law.”
Marko Djuric, the head of the Serbian government’s office for Kosovo said.
Serbian government must decide whether to continue its ongoing negotiations to normalise relations with Pristina. He said, “This is a red line that is pointing out that we should ask ourselves whether to continue, and in what way.”
Kosovo has been recognised by more than 100 countries, including the US and most EU states.
Countries which do not recognise its independence include Russia, Spain, China and India.