, BELGRADE (Reuters) – – Serbian police on Tuesday detained a Kosovo Serb politician who said he was involved in a deadly shootout with Kosovo police 10 days ago and handed him to a Belgrade prosecutor, the country’s interior ministry said in a statement. Tensions between Belgrade and Pristina have soared since Sept. 24, when around […]
Serbia’s police detain Kosovo Serb politician involved in Kosovo shootout
, BELGRADE (Reuters) – – Serbian police on Tuesday detained a Kosovo Serb politician who said he was involved in a deadly shootout with Kosovo police 10 days ago and handed him to a Belgrade prosecutor, the country’s interior ministry said in a statement.
Tensions between Belgrade and Pristina have soared since Sept. 24, when around 30 armed Serbs barricaded themselves in a Serbian Orthodox monastery near the northern Kosovo village of Banjska, resulting in a shootout with Kosovo police.
Three attackers and a Kosovo police officer were killed.
The gunbattle prompted new international concern over stability in Kosovo, which has an ethnic Albanian majority and declared independence from Serbia in 2008 after a guerrilla uprising and a 1999 NATO intervention.
Some 50,000 Serbs who live in north Kosovo do not recognise Pristina’s institutions and see Belgrade as their capital. They have often clashed with Kosovo police and international peacekeepers, but last month’s violence was the worst in years.
Milan Radoicic, vice president of the Serb List party which is dominant in northern Kosovo, later admitted to taking part in the skirmishes, by saying he had come to Kosovo with the group “to encourage Serb people to resist (Prime Minister Albin) Kurti’s terrorist regime”. He was questioned by Serbian police last week over his remarks.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Serbian Interior Ministry said the police “searched the apartment and other premises of … Milan Radoicic” who has been detained.
“The same person has been taken to the High Public Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade with a criminal complaint,” the statement said, without offering further details.
Radoicic’s lawyer Goran Petronijevic could not be immediately reached for comment. On Sunday, Petronijevic said he was hoping the prosecutor’s office would not launch proceedings against his client as there were no legal grounds.
Pristina authorities had accused Belgrade of providing financial and practical support for the operation, something Serbian authorities denied. Kosovo and Western countries have also accused Serbia of a buildup of military presence in the so-called Ground Safety Zone, a 5 km-wide (3-mile) strip inside Serbia along the Kosovo border.
On Monday, Serbia’s army commander General Milan Mojsilovic said the country has withdrawn some troops.
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)