Kosovo’s Court of Appeals confirmed the one-year prison sentence handed down to former minister Ivan Todosijevic for incitement to ethnic, racial or religious intolerance.
The Court of Appeals in Prishtina announced on Tuesday that it has upheld the conviction of Ivan Todosijevic, a Serb former minister in the Kosovo government, for inciting ethnic, racial or religious intolerance with his comments about the January 1999 massacre of Kosovo Albanians in the village of Racak/Recak, which he claimed was staged.
The court found that Todosijevic’s claims “fully reflect intent” to express hatred.
It added that claiming that the Racak/Recak was a fabrication “is an insulting and contemptuous expression towards a community, but towards the victims who suffered in that incident”.
The court specifically condemned Todosijevic’s use of the phrase “Albanian terrorists”.
In his comments three years ago, Todosijevic claimed that “the Albanian terrorists are the ones who made this [Racak/Recak massacre] all up and committed the biggest crimes in Kosovo”.
He made the statement at a ceremony in 2019 marking the 20th anniversary of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, which was launched to stop Slobodan Milosevic’s military campaign against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
The Racak/Recak massacre, in which 45 Kosovo Albanians were murdered, was one of the incidents that sparked NATO’s intervention in the country.
As a result of his statement, Todosijevic was fired from his position as minister for administration and local government in the Kosovo government.
Todosijevic previously told Pristina Basic Court that his statement was not anti-Albanian.
“I did not intend in any way to offend anyone, especially the [Kosovo] Albanian community,” he said.
Commenting on the Todosijevic verdict during an interview with Serbian public broadcaster RTS on Tuesday evening, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said it showed “how hard it is to talk with and do a deal with these people [Kosovo Albanians]”.
Todosijevic was elected as an MP with the Belgrade-backed Srpska Lista bloc in the February 2021 snap elections, but did not take up his seat because of his initial conviction.
He was convicted by Pristina Basic Court in December 2019 and the verdict was confirmed by the Court of Appeals in August 2021. But in December 2021, Kosovo’s Supreme Court ordered a retrial.
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