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EULEX judge orders detention for war crimes suspect

An international judge from the Mitrovica Basic Court [official website] on Tuesday ordered a one-month detention for a Kosovo Serb politician, Oliver Ivanovic, who is suspected of committing war crimes and aggravated murder during the 1998-1999 Kosovo conflict [BBC backgrounder]. The order was in response to a request by a European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) prosecutor in the Kosovo Special Prosecution Office (SPRK) [official websites]. Ivanovic voluntarily presented himself [press release] at a Mitrovica police station on Monday and was arrested after a suspect interview was conducted. Ivanovic is the first senior Kosovo Serb official [BBC report] to be arrested by EULEX for allegedly committing war crimes against Albanians during the 1998 conflict.

In response to the widespread commission of war crimes during the conflict in Kosovo, EULEX was created in 2008 [JURIST report] to assist in the effort of bringing perpetrators to justice. A EULEX prosecutor in the SPRK filed an indictment [JURIST report] against 15 defendants in November in the EULEX Mitrovica Basic Court. The individuals were accused of war crimes against civilians that occurred at a Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) detention center in Likovac in 1998. Fatmir Limaj, an ally of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci [official website] was acquitted by EULEX in September for the third time after his retrial began [JURIST reports] in April. In October 2011 EULEX sentenced [JURIST report] a former Albanian fighter of the KLA, and in September of the same year charged [JURIST report] 10 other KLA members with war crimes. In June 2009 Amnesty International (AI) criticized [JURIST report] international efforts to prosecute war crimes from the 1998 conflict, claiming that many human rights abuses have not been investigated and have gone unpunished and that nearly 2000 people are still unaccounted for from the conflict. Kosovo officially seceded [JURIST report] from Serbia in 2008.

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