A Kosovo court has lifted the home custody order placed on four defendants accused of involvement of the murder of Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic in 2018.
Pristina Basic Court lifted the home custody order imposed on Marko Rosic, Silvana Arsovic, Nedelko Spasojevic and Rade Basara on Friday, replacing it with an obligation to regularly report to police.
The four defendants are accused of being involved in the joint criminal enterprise that arranged the assassination of Kosovo Serb political party leader Ivanovic in January 2018.
Ivanovic was shot outside his party headquarters in North Mitrovica, a city divided along ethnic lines between the Serb and Kosovar Albanian populations. At the time of his murder, the controversial political was awaiting retrial after having been found guilty of participating in the killing of ten Albanians during Kosovo’s war of independence from Serbia.
In later years, however, Ivanovic came to be known as a rare voice for moderation. His acceptance of Kosovo’s independence, and calls for peace coexistence between ethnic Serb and Albanian Kosovars, marked him as a traitor in the eyes of hardline Serb nationalists.
Two other defendants, police officers Dragisa Markovic and Zarko Jovanovic, are also on trial for evidence-tampering in the case. All of the defendants in the assassination trial have plead not guilty.
Last month, Kosovo police arrested Milan Mihajlovic, a Serb from the northern Kosovo town of Leposavic. Mihajlovic had been on the run since 2019 over his alleged involvement in the assassination of Ivanovic.
Mihajlovic is one of more than a dozen Serbs from northern Kosovo who were sanctioned in August 2021 by the US Treasury Department over their alleged ties to transnational organised crime.
The US Treasury claims Mihajlovic is linked to controversial businessman Zvonko Veselinovic. Veselinovic is also on the US sanctions list.
The vice-president of Belgrade-backed Kosovo Serb political party Srpska Lista, Milan Radoicic, is accused by many of joining Veselinovic in leading the organised criminal group that killed Ivanovic.
Both Radoicic and Veselinovic have denied their involvement in the incident. Neither man has been charged with a crime.
During Friday’s hearing, a witness testified in court that he saw a police officer taking the hard disk from a security camera following Ivanovic’s murder. A major issue in the ongoing case is that the surveillance cameras at Ivanovic’s party headquarters in Mitrovica were switched off at the time of Ivanovic’s murder.
The Kosovo prosecution accuses Ivanovic’s secretary, Silvana Arsovic, of switching the cameras back on following the incident.
Prior to his death, Ivanovic said he was receiving death threats over his increasingly vocal criticism of the Belgrade government.
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