Serbian Political Leader In Northern Kosovo Shot Dead

Oliver Ivanovic, an ethnic Serb political leader in northern Kosovo, has been shot dead in front of his office in the Serb-dominated northern part of the divided city of Mitrovica.

Ivanovic's lawyer, Nebojsa Vlajic, told RFE/RL that Ivanovic died as a result of the shooting on the morning of January 16.

Ivanovic was the president of the SDP (Freedom, Democracy, Justice) Civic Initiative that ran candidates in local elections in Kosovo in 2017.

Ksenija Bozovic, the deputy president of the SDP Civic Initiative, told RFE/RL that police found three bullet casings in front of the party's office following the attack, which happened at 8:15 a.m. local time.

Ivanovic served as a member of Serbia's government from 2008 to 2012, despite Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence, as the state secretary of the Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija.

He was also a leader in Kosovo of Serbia's Social Democratic Party until 2009, when he became the leader of the SDP Civic Initiative.

Before Kosovo's 1998-99 war, when Kosovo was an autonomous province of Serbia, Ivanovic had been a manager at the Trepca mines in Mitrovica.

Judges from the European Union's Rule of Law Mission (Eulex) in Kosovo in January 2016 convicted Ivanovic of war crimes committed against ethnic Albanians during the 1998-99 war and sentenced him to nine years in prison.

But that verdict was annulled by the Appeals Court in Pristina in February 2017.

A retrial was under way at the time of Ivanovic’s death.