Kosovo Serbs furious over jailing of MP for ‘ethnic hatred’

Serb judges in Kosovo staged a one-day strike after MP Ivan Todosijevic was jailed for two years for inciting ethnic hatred for claiming that a wartime massacre of Kosovo Albanians by Serbian forces in 1999 was faked.

Serb judges in the town of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo refused to work on Wednesday in protest after MP Ivan Todosijevic was convicted of ethnic, racial or religious intolerance for his comments about the January 1999 massacre of 45 Kosovo Albanians in the village of Recak, which he claimed was staged.

The Serb judges argued that the so-called Brussels Agreement on normalisation of relations, signed by Serbia and Kosovo, was violated at Todosijevic’s trial. They argued that in cases that involve ethnic Serb defendants, the trial panel should consist of two Serb judges and an ethnic Albanian, but that this did not happen in the case of Todosijevic.

Mayors of four Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo backed the judges’ strike, saying it was “a clear message to Prishtina that it is unacceptable to violate the Brussels agreement on justice to the detriment of the Serb people”.

Todosijevic’s conviction means that he will have to step down as an MP. His party, the Belgrade-backed Srpska Lista, called the verdict “politically motivated” and “anti-Serb.”

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic also slammed the verdict in a video posted on Instagram.

Vucic claimed that Todosijevic was sentenced to two years in prison “just because he told the truth – the truth about Racak, the truth about everything that has happened to the Serbian people”.

Todosijevic made his statement about the Recak massacre at a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, which was aimed at making Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic end his military campaign against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

The Recak massacre was one of the incidents that helped to spark NATO’s intervention.

“The reason for the [NATO] aggression in our country was the so-called humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo and the fabricated Racak [massacre in 1999], and the Albanian terrorists are the ones who made all this up and committed the biggest crimes in Kosovo,” Todosijevic said.

Todosijevic was minister for administration and local government in the Kosovo government until he was sacked for making the comments in March 2020.

26/08/2021 - 12:14

26 August 2021 - 12:14

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