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Belgrade Court Rejects Detention for Kosovo Serb Kingpin Radoicic

The Higher Court in Belgrade, after hearing the defendant Milan Radoicic, has rejected the proposal of the Higher Public Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade for his detention based on the risk of his escape.

“At the same time … a measure of prohibition against leaving his place of residence was set, which prohibits him from leaving the territory of the Republic of Serbia without court approval and … from going to the territory of AP Kosovo and Metohija, and he was ordered to report to the competent police station every 1st and 15th of the month,” the Higher Court announced on Wednesday.

Also, his travel document, namely his passport, was temporarily confiscated, and he was warned that detention may be imposed if he violates the prohibitions and obligations, it is stressed.

Belgrade Higher Prosecutor’s Office questioned Radoicic on Tuesday about allegations that he obtained large amounts of weapons and took them to northern Kosovo, where an armed Serb group was involved in a deadly shootout with Kosovo police on September 24.

Prosecutors allege that Radoicic “procured weapons, ammunition and explosive devices of great destructive power from Tuzla”, in Bosnia, “which were delivered to him in the city of Belgrade”.

They claim that Radoicic then “transported and stored [the weapons] in unspecified locations” in Kosovo and “hid them in abandoned buildings and forests”.

The controversial Kosovo Serb businessman and politician is further accused of “serious crimes against general security”. He has denied guilt, prosecutors said.

The Serbian Interior Ministry said on Tuesday that police had detained Radoicic and searched his apartment.

The Director of the Federation entity Police in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Vahidin Munjic, said on Tuesday that he will check whether Radoicic bought the weapons in Bosnia.

On Friday last week, Radoicic said he took sole responsibility for the shootout between Serb gunmen and Kosovo police officers that left one policeman dead in the northern Kosovo village of Banjska/Banjske. Three of the gunmen also died.

In an interview with US channel CNN on Monday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic hinted that Radoicic will face justice in Serbia for the violence in Banjska/Banjske.

Kosovo politicians have accused Serbia of being behind the armed group led by Radoicic. Serbia has denied this allegation.

Radoicic has said he alone organised what he called a “defence” operation against the Kosovo authorities, without the knowledge of his political party, Srpska Lista, or the Serbian authorities in Belgrade.

His statement did not say what led to the shooting in which the police officer was killed, only that “the death of the policeman happened by accident, after which a fierce fight began on both sides”.

Radoicic’s statement also did not clarify why a group of heavily armed Serbs was in Banjska/Banjske, or how they got the arsenal of weaponry and vehicles that the Kosovo Police found there after arresting some of the gunmen.

Radoicic also said that he is resigning as vice-president of Srpska Lista, a Belgrade-backed party representing Kosovo Serbs. He added that he was “ready” to respond to Serbian prosecutors’ summons for questioning over the violence.

Radoicic became vice president of Srpska Lista in June 2018 is considered the real powerbroker in the Serb-majority north of Kosovo.

He is wanted in Kosovo in connection with a corruption case involving illegal construction in the Brezovica mountain resort area. An earlier indictment in the case of the murdered Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic mentioned Radoicic as one of the prime suspects leading the organised crime group that murdered Ivanovic in 2018, although he has not been indicted.

He was blacklisted by the US in December 2021 for alleged involvement in organised crime.

In an interview for CNN on Tuesday evening, Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani said that “the very first thing that we want is to have Radoicic and other terrorists handed over to the Republic of Kosovo so that real justice can be delivered”.

BIRN asked the special prosecution office in Kosovo about a potential extradition request for Radoicic but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

As of Tuesday evening, the EU office in Pristina told BIRN that it had “not received any [such] request by relevant Kosovo authorities”. Under an Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance, amended in 2015, Kosovo and Serbia are to exchange judicial requests via EU representatives.

But a BIRN Fact Check from last year concluded that cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo on criminal cases is far from smooth. Court monitoring has highlighted constant delays in criminal proceedings in Kosovo due to a lack of cooperation from Serbia, particularly when it comes to war crime cases or cases involving high-profile individuals such as Radoicic.

Source : Balkan Insight