A man leans on a barrier decorated in Serbian flags while US soldiers of the NATO-led international peacekeeping Kosovo Force (KFOR) stand guard in Leposavic, Kosovo, June 2, 2023. Photo: EPA-EFE/GEORGI LICOVSKI

Serbia’s Arrest of Kosovo Local Serb Raises Concerns for Political Pressure

The arrest of the Director of Administration in the Municipality of Leposavic by authorities in Serbia has raised concerns in Kosovo that Serbia is blackmailing and putting pressure on the ethnic Serbs of Kosovo.

Nikolla Radomirovic, the Director of Administration in the Municipality of Leposavic in northern Kosovo, has been sentenced to ten days of imprisonment in Serbia for the alleged “possession of a cold weapon,” as reported by Radio Free Europe. Radomirovic was reportedly found in possession of a pocket knife and a dagger.

On September 9th, Kosovo’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Xhelal Sveçla, announced that Radomirovic, along with his fiancée, had been taken to the police station in Raska, southern Serbia. Sveçla emphasized that Radomirovic is a part of Kosovo’s institutions and has consistently resisted pressure from Belgrade and its affiliated groups.

“This unjust arrest is further evidence of Serbia’s destructive and destabilizing approach and revenge following Kosovo’s success achieved yesterday and their failure to prevent Kosovo from being a host for the 2030 Mediterranean Games,” wrote Sveçla on Facebook.

Sveçla called for Radomirovic’s immediate release and an end to unlawful acts and pressures against Kosovo citizens, especially those of Serbian ethnicity who are loyal to the Republic of Kosovo.

The German Ambassador to Kosovo also expressed concerns about Radomirovic’s arrest, stating on Twitter, “Closely following concerning reports about the detention of the head of the Leposavic administration in Serbia. Not the first time in recent months that detention at border crossings raises suspicions of political harassment. Expect that the official appeal is considered swiftly.”

In late May of this year, Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, appointed Radoica Radomirovic as Deputy Minister for Communities and Returns in the Government of Kosovo. Meanwhile, in early July, his son Nikolla was appointed as the Director of Administration in the Municipality of Leposavic.

The Court of Appeals in Raska clarified that the judgment is not legally binding because both the defendant and the applicant have filed appeals, indicating that the appeal procedure is ongoing. The Court of Appeals also stated that the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia, specifically the Raska police station, initiated the proceeding against Nikolla Radomirovic based on the Law on Weapons and Ammunition.

During the inspection of Radomirovic’s car, the police found a knife and a non-lethal firearm, which was considered the possession of a “cold weapon in a public place,” as reported by Radio Free Europe.

Prishtina Insight reached out to the Office for Kosovo in the Government of Serbia for comments on the issue but had not received a response by the time of publication.

Nikolla Radomirovic, in his defense, stated that he was unaware that a knife and a dagger measuring about 10 centimeters were considered “cold weapons” and that he kept them in his car as tools. The legally prescribed penalty for this violation can range from a fine to up to 60 days of imprisonment.

Radoica Radomirovic, the father of the arrested individual and simultaneously the Deputy Minister for Communities and Returns in the Government of Kosovo, deemed this judgment as “politically motivated” and alleged that the entire case had been “fabricated” due to their political engagement in Kosovo’s central and local institutions. He believes that they are facing persecution because they publicly express different views from the Serbian List, the leading party of Serbs in Kosovo with the support of Belgrade.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Raska stated to Radio Free Europe that “there has been no criminal complaint filed against Nikolla Radomirovic for any criminal offense for which prosecution is mandatory according to official duty.” However, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia requested to initiate a proceeding against him.

Nikolla’s lawyer, Alladin Shemovic, emphasized that his client had not been previously convicted and believed that this should have been taken into account, advocating for a fine rather than imprisonment.

The Minister for Communities and Returns in the Government of Kosovo, Nenad Rashic, considered the arrest of Nikolla Radomirovic an “unprecedented persecution.” In a press conference on September 10th, he emphasized that individuals opposing the policies of the Serbian List are regularly stopped or arrested at border crossings.

In mid-April of this year, during their border crossing into Serbia, four Serbs from northern Kosovo were arrested for charges including “conspiracy against the constitutional order of Serbia” and “forcible alteration of the constitutional order of Serbia.” They were accused of being part of an “organized criminal group whose aim was the forcible change of power, i.e., the overthrow of the constitutional order of the Republic of Serbia in northern Kosovo.”

13/09/2023 - 11:50

13 September 2023 - 11:50

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.