Goran Rakic alongside Marko Djuric in North Mitrovica. (BETAPHOTO/SASA DJORDJEVIC/EV)

Photo of Serbia’s Ambassador to the US with Kosovo Serb Kingpin Radoicic Draws Reactions

A photo that circulated online over the weekend of Serbia’s Ambassador to the US, Marko Djuric withKosovo Serb kingpin Milan Radoicic, blacklisted by the US and wanted by INTERPOL for the attack against Kosovo police in Banjska in September 2023, stirred reactions.

Over the weekend, a photo surfaced on social media showing controversial Kosovo Serb businessman Milan Radoicic with Serbia’s Ambassador to the US, Marko Djuric.

Djuric, former head of the Serbian government Office for Kosovo, called the reactions to the photo a negative campaign against him. Djuric claims that he never hid his public contacts related to his job, and that he met with Kosovo Serbs regularly as well as with Albanian leaders “charged with indescribable war crimes against my people before domestic and international courts”.

“I have no intention of justifying myself to (Kosovo PM Albin) Kurti and (Kosovo Interior Affairs Minister Xhelal) Svecla or their bots and other malicious individuals for anything,” Djuric wrote on “X” (formerly Twitter), on Sunday.

The U.S Ambassador to Kosovo, Jeffrey Hovenier, told BIRN that he is aware of media reports of the purported meeting, noting that the United States’ position on Radoicic is well-known considering he is under US government sanctions for involvement in corruption and transnational organised crime.

“Serbia must hold accountable those involved in the attack carried out by ethnic Serb paramilitaries in Banjska that resulted in the tragic death of a Kosovo Police sergeant. We have a clear view of Mr. Radoicic. He has claimed responsibility for the attack in Banjska through his lawyers. He is a criminal who must be held accountable”, Hovenier told BIRN. 

Meanwhile, the Serbian liberal opposition politician Nikola Sandulovic posted the photo of Djuric with Radoicic, asking the European Union and the US, for their response to “this obvious proof of the connection between the criminal wanted by Interpol and the terrorist Milan Radoičić with the top of the Serbian government”.

“Serbian ambassador to the U.S. Marko Djuric, who’s also expected to become Serbia’s next PM, is seen dining with Interpol-wanted & US-sanctioned Milan Radoicic, a close associate of Serbia’s president Vucic, who stood behind the Banjska attack that left one Kosovo policeman dead”, Sandulovic wrote on “X”.

The former deputy leader of the Serbian List, Milan Radoicic, has taken responsibility for the events in Banjska, Zvecan, where a Kosovo police officer was killed and two others were injured after being attacked with explosive devices.

During the counterattack by the Kosovo Police, at least 3 members of the group led by Milan Radoicic were killed. Other perpetrators of the attack were arrested, and the majority are believed to have fled to Serbian territory.

Radoicic, a powerful businessman with strong links to the Belgrade authorities, is considered to be the real powerbroker in the Serb-majority north of Kosovo. He is currently on INTERPOL’s wanted list for the organisation of the attack against the Kosovo police in the village of Banjska in the Serb majority municipality of Zvecan in the north of Kosovo, on September 24, 2023. 

Radoicic, then deputy leader of the Srpska Lista, a Kosovo Serb party linked with Serbia’s ruling Progressive Party, took responsibility for the attack, labelled a terrorist attack by the Kosovo government. One Kosovo policeman was killed and another wounded. Three Serb gunmen were also killed during the clash with the Kosovo police.

In an October 2023 preliminary hearing, the Higher Court in Belgrade decided against Radoicic, prohibiting him from “leaving his place of residence … which prohibits him from leaving the territory of the Republic of Serbia without court approval and … from going to the territory of Kosovo… and he was ordered to report to the competent police station every 1st and 15th of the month”.

Radoicic is currently being tried in freedom in Serbia, not allowed to leave the country. 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”.

Bosnian authorities have rejected these allegations, but the European Union Office in Pristina told BIRN in early December 2023 they forwarded a Kosovo request for “mutual legal assistance” in investigation to Sarajevo. 

In early October 2023, a BIRN investigation  revealed that  the weapons were either stolen from state warehouses, sold to a private arms merchant who sold or gave them to Radoicic, or handed over by the state.

BIRN used OSINT and interviews with sources to identify the type, manufacturing company and year of the production of the weapons to analyze the markings on the weapons and ammunition seized by Kosovo police, including mortar rounds and grenade launchers. 

However, the question of how his group obtained arms recently produced in Serbian arms factories remained open.

11/03/2024 - 15:19

11 March 2024 - 15:19

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.