Serb politician sentenced to 9 years for war crimes

[JURIST] The EU's justice mission in Kosovo (EULEX) [official website] sentenced [press release] a Serb politician to nine years in prison for war crimes against ethnic Albanian civilians on Thursday. Oliver Ivanovic was arrested [JURIST report] in January 2014 for the murder and torture of Albanian civilians during the 1999 war where Kosovo fought for its independence from Serbia [BBC profiles]. Kosovo was the leader of a paramilitary group that chased civilians from a Serb-controlled town and proceeded to torture and kill [BBC report] at least four of the civilians. Four other Serbs charged with Ivanovic were acquitted. The court ruled [BBC report] that "Oliver Ivanovic was aware of the operation of expelling and killing Albanians ... he willingly complied with the plan, knowing that it would result in the killings." Ivanovic has repeatedly denied the charges and claims the arrest is politically motivated. He will remain under house arrest pending an appeal.

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 Kosovo Special Prosecution Office (SPRK) filed an indictment [JURIST report] against 15 defendants in November 2014 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 was acquitted by EULEX in September 2014 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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