Serb politician in Kosovo shot dead

Serb politician in Kosovo shot dead

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.

President Aleksandar Vucic has called an emergency session of the National Security Council meeting.

The attack is likely to heighten ethnic tensions in Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008.

Kosovo prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj says he considers the slaying of Serb minority political leader Oliver Ivanovic as "a punishable criminal act".

Some 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.

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

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.

Northern Mitrovica has a majority Serb population and has been administered independently from the rest of Kosovo as per the now pending European Union initiative to create the Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo.

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A retrial was underway at the time of Ivanovic's death.

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.

The Serbian government official in charge of Kosovo, Marko Djuric, described the murder as a "a criminal, terrorist act against the entire Serbian people".

Kosovo remains tense, a decade after declaring independence from Serbia in 2008.

He was shot five times in the chest, Efe news agency reported, quoting Serbian state TV.

Under pressure from the global community and European Union auspices, Kosovo and Serbia have been trying to normalise ties for 20 years since the start of a bloody war that claimed 13,000 lives, mostly ethnic Albanians.

"He was immediately sent to hospital and doctors tried to save him, but this was to no avail", his lawyer Nebojsa Vlajic said.

About 10,000 people died in the 1998-99 war between Serb forces and Kosovo ethnic Albanian rebels.

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