Published: Wed, January 17, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Oliver Ivanovic, Kosovo Serb Politician, Assassinated

Oliver Ivanovic, Kosovo Serb Politician, Assassinated

A North Atlantic Treaty Organisation air campaign eventually forced Serbia to withdraw its troops, but European Union monitors remain in Kosovo.

Photo Police officers at the spot where Oliver Ivanovic was shot and killed, outside his office in Mitrovica, Kosovo, on Tuesday.

Police said they found a burnt-out Opel auto in the town after the shooting and suspected it was linked to the attack.

Oliver Ivanovic was one of the key politicians in the Serb-majority northern part of the region.

Mr Ivanovic was facing a retrial for alleged war crimes against Albanians in 1999. That verdict was overturned and a retrial was underway.

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A former Serbian state secretary for Kosovo, Ivanovic was a key interlocutor with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the United Nations and later the European Union after the war and was seen as backing dialogue with Kosovo's ethnic Albanians.

In Belgrade, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic held a top security meeting to discuss the shooting. Doctors there did everything they could to rescue him but to no avail. It declared independence from Belgrade in 2008, and though the country is not a member of the United Nations, it's recognized as an independent country by more than 100 countries - including the United States, Britain and Germany.

Ivanovic was born in Peja, in 1953, and began his political career during the Kosovo War, in July 1999.

In Pristina, the Kosovo government strongly denounced the slaying and said it considers it to be a challenge to "the rule of law and efforts to establish the rule of law in the whole of Kosovo territory".

About 40,000-50,000 ethnic Serbs live in northern Kosovo, rejecting integration with the mainly Albanian state since it declared independence from Serbia in 2008. The majority of European Union member states have recognized Kosovo, but Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain have not.

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Ivanović was born on April 1 1953 in a village in western Kosovo, at the time part of Yugoslavia, into a Kosovan Serb academic family.

Ivanovic, the 64-year-old head of the Kosovo Serb Freedom, Democracy, Justice party was due to attend EU-mediated talks between delegates from Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels.

Serbian officials dismissed the accusations against Ivanovic and said the process against him was staged.

Tensions remain high between Mitrovica's ethnic Albanians who number about 72,000 and the 13,000-strong Serb community.

The war between 1998 and 1999 led to thousands of deaths and the displacement of almost 90% of Kosovo's population.

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He added that 'whoever is behind this attack. whether they are Serb, Albanian or any other criminals, they must be punished'.

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