Two police officers working on the investigation into the assassination of a Kosovar Serb politician last month have been arrested on suspicion of tampering with evidence, according to local media. Reports say that the policemen, who are of Serbian descent, are accused of not having properly secured the scene of the crime.
Oliver Ivanovic, the leader of the Serb “Freedom, Democracy, Justice” party was shot dead on 16 January in front of the offices of his party in Mitrovica in northern Kosovo from a passing car.
Ivanovic’s murder came just one month before the ten year anniversary of Kosovo’s independence from Serbia and on the same day that Serb and Albanian delegations were due to meet in Brussels to discuss the normalisation of relations. However, when news broke of Ivanovic’s murder, the Serb delegation pulled out of the talks and flew back to Belgrade.
Ivanovic was awaiting retrial having been found guilty in 2016 of being involved in the killing of ten Albanians during Kosovo’s war of independence from Serbia. In later years, however, he had come to be regarded as a rare voice for moderation who accepted Kosovan independence.
The Serbian president Alexander Vucic called Ivanovic’s killing a “terrorist act” and demanded the involvement of Serb authorities in the investigation. Pristina rejected this demand, however, Kosovan investigators, comprised of both Kosovar Albanians and Serbs, have kept Belgrade informed about the developments to date, but nothing yet is known about the perpetrators.
Local sources report that the arrest of the two police officers took place on the order of the Basic Court in Mitrovica and during the search of the detainees a pistol was found. The officers, who have not been identified, can be detained for 48 hours initially, but the state prosecutor announced that a request will be made to hold them for up to 30 days.
Kosovo police have decided to suspend them until the investigation is concluded. Prosecutor Njazi Redza confirmed on Saturday that two members of the Kosovo police were arrested, saying “they were on duty and did not do a good job.”