Businessman and former political leader of the Kosovo Serb community, Milan Radoicic (center), in February 2023. DARKO VOJINOVIC / AP
Milan Radoicic, alleged leader of the commando who killed a Kosovar policeman at the end of September and who is wanted by Kosovo, was arrested on Tuesday October 3 in Serbia, announced the Serbian Interior Ministry.
Milan Radoicic was placed in pre-trial detention and handed over to the Belgrade prosecutor’s office, the ministry announced in a press release. Serbian police carried out searches in his apartment, according to the same source, without specifying the location of the arrest or that of the searches.
On September 24, in northern Kosovo – a Serb majority area – clashes took place between the special forces of the Kosovar police and an armed paramilitary commando, whose alleged leader is Milan Radoicic. A Kosovar police officer was killed and another injured on a barricade set up at the entrance to the village of Banjska, fifteen kilometers from the Serbian border.
The Kosovar police then launched a major operation against this group, which had taken refuge in a monastery of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Three of its members, all Kosovo Serbs, were killed and three arrested. The others fled, including Mr. Radoicic. The incident caused serious tensions to resurface on the border separating Serbia and Kosovo.
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“Dream of freedom” for Kosovo Serbs
Mr. Radoicic is a businessman and vice-president of the Serbian List (“Srpska lista”), the main political group of the Kosovo Serbs, from which he resigned last week. The suspect had already been questioned for the first time on Saturday by the Serbian police. A few days earlier, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had declared that Mr. Radoicic was in “Central Serbia” and that he was available for questioning by Serbian authorities.
Warned by Washington, Serbia claimed on Monday to have brought back “normal” the level of his troops along the border with Kosovo, which accused him of having planned to“annex” its territories in the North.
Accused by the Kosovo Interior Minister, Xhelal Sveçla, of having been the leader of the commando, Mr. Radoicic himself claimed, through his lawyer in Belgrade, to have set up and equipped this group, without Belgrade’s knowledge. The objective of his act was, he explained, “to create the conditions to realize the dream of freedom of [son] people in northern Kosovo ».
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Serbia refuses to recognize the independence that its former southern province, with an Albanian majority, proclaimed in 2008. A third of the approximately 120,000 Serbs in Kosovo (which has a total population of 1.8 million) live in the north of Kosovo, border region with Serbia where Pristina wishes to establish its sovereignty. Supported by Belgrade, they refuse all allegiance to the government of Kosovo.
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