Kosovo Serb leader shot dead in Mitrovica

Oliver Ivanovic, an influential Kosovo Serb politician figure, has been shot dead outside his party office in Mitrovica, Kosovo.

Nebojsa Vlajic, Ivanovic’s lawyer, said the moderate Kosovo Serb leader was shot four times in the chest and died later in hospital.

After hearing the news, Serbian government representatives walked out of EU-mediated talks with Kosovo Albanians which was being held in Brussels, Belgium.

Until today, Kosovo remains ethnically divided since unilaterally splitting from Serbia.

Mitrovica, a city in northern Kosovo, is a divided city with the south run by Kosovo Albanians and the north part of the city run by Kosovo Serbs.

Ivanovic, who led negotiations with North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union, was the leader of a Kosovo Serb party called Freedom, Democracy, Justice.

He faced a retrial for alleged war crimes against ethnic Albanians committed in 1999.

In January 2016, EU judges in Kosovo sentenced him to nine years, but the verdict was overruled by an appellate court a year later.

“This is a criminal and terrorist act that must be and will be punished,” Serbian delegate Marko Djuric emphasized, announcing his move to walk out of the Brussels talks.

The Serbian government is immediately holding an extraordinary security meeting in the capital city of Belgrade.

Ivanovic emerged to importance in Kosovo Serb politics during the territory’s conflict in 1999, when Serb forces fought Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas and allegedly committed war crimes against the ethnic minority.

A NATO air campaign forced Serbia to pull its military personnel out, but an EU law and order team remains in Kosovo.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 and it has been recognized by 115 countries.

However, Serbia and its closest ally, Russia, have not recognized Kosovo independence until today.

More details to follow. Image 1 of Oliver Ivanovic from Wikipedia.

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