Arrest of Serb for Attacking Policemen and Burning Cars in North of Kosovo Sparks Reactions

A suspect arrested in North Mitrovica by Kosovo Police for burning cars in the North of the country and attacking the Kosovo Police, is also suspected for murdering a member of the EU’s rule of law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, Interior Minister Xhelal Sveçla announced.

On Saturday, during an action to combat organized crime and prevent criminal activities, Kosovo Police arrested a suspect in North Mitrovica, who is accused of being involved in a gun attack against the Kosovo Police unit, where two police officers were injured. The same person is also suspected of setting vehicles on fire, in the Zubin Potok region – vehicles fit with Kosovo license plates. 

The Minister of the Interior, Xhelal Sveçla, publicly announced the name of the arrested person, Millovan Bozovic, stating that he was an active member of the so-called ‘Civil Protection Corps’ and is suspected of murdering a EULEX member. The case is thought to be that of  2013, when a policeman of EULEX was killed near Zvecan, in the Serb-run north Kosovo, while two others were injured.

“The leaders of Serbia and its institutions are once again showing interest in destabilizing areas of Kosovo where the Serbian community resides, as they have historically done. They continue to protect and glorify criminals who commit terrorist acts in our Republic,” Sveçla said.

According to Sveçla’s Facebook post, in addition to burning vehicles in the north, injuring Kosovo police officers, damaging critical infrastructure, crossing the border illegally, assaulting ethnic Serbs, extortion, and setting local businesses on fire, Bozovic also participated in attacks on homes and properties of ethnic Serbian members of the Kosovo Security Force.

Eight cars were burned on March 30th, 31st, and April 1st in the northern part of Kosovo, mainly in the municipalities of Zubin Potok, Leposavic and North Mitrovica. 

The EU ambassador to Kosovo, Tomas Szyoung, has said that he strongly condemns the burning of cars in the North that have been re-registered with license plates of the Republic of Kosovo.

“Destruction of private property, that occurred over [the] last two days, aimed at intimidating local population is deplorable, unacceptable & should be condemned by all relevant actors”, he wrote on Twitter.

Szyoung has called upon law enforcement agencies to swiftly identify and prosecute those responsible.

The German ambassador to Kosovo, Joern Rohde, agreed with Szyoung’s tweet stresssing that violence is never an option.

“I have full confidence that the Kosovar authorities will investigate the cases thoroughly and bring those responsible to justice” wrote Rohde on Twitter.

The American ambassador, Jeffrey Hovenier, wrote on Twitter that the government of Kosovo has a responsibility to protect its citizens and ensure accountability for these criminal acts.

On Sunday, Ivica Dacic, the Foreign Minister of Serbia, made a statement alleging that Kosovo government’s recent arrests of Serbs were an attempt to destabilize the situation and avoid fulfilling its obligations under the Ohrid agreement. 

Following a meeting with the Security Services Coordination Bureau of Serbia, Dacic urged the international community to take urgent action and put pressure on the authorities in Prishtina to prevent de-escalation.

The Serbian List, the largest party of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo backed by Belgrade, described the arrest in the north [of Kosovo] as a continuation of the mistreatment of the Serbian people. 

After the arrest, the Serbian List issued a media statement saying that the arrestee from Zubin Potok was “accused of serious crimes without any evidence”. They stated that if the arrested person is not released, there will be a reaction from all Serbs.

The burning of vehicles follows the re-registration of vehicles with KM plates now fit with RKS plates. KM plates are issued by the Serbian authorities, and Kosovo considers them illegal. The process of re-registering vehicles to RKS plates began last year after tensions in the north of Kosovo in November 2022.

03/04/2023 - 15:21

03 April 2023 - 15:21

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