Oliver Ivanovic, a Serbian politician in Kosovo, died on January 16 after an unidentified perpetrator shot him at the entrance to his office in Mitrovica. Kosovar officials are investigating the crime while Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic visited the northern city on January 20 in order to honor Ivanovic’s memory.
Ivanovic played a controversial role during the Kosovo War of 1998-1999 when he joined the Serbian troops fighting against the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Since 2001, his political career in Kosovo has included positions such as minister in the Assembly of Kosovo and state secretary in the Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija in the government of Serbia. In 2014, a panel of international judges tried him for an alleged crime committed in 1999. According to the prosecution, Ivanovic had ordered the murder of nine ethnic Albanians. Though the judges condemned him as guilty, the case was overturned for retrial.
Serbs represent the majority of the population in the divided town of Mitrovica. Ivanovic’s murder interrupts EU-mediated negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia. Meanwhile, Vucic said that Serbia will wait for the results of Kosovo’s investigation of the crime, despite having previously demanded that Serbian officials be permitted to join the process.