By Filip Rudic and Bahrie Sadiku
A court document obtained by BIRN reveals that two policemen in north Kosovo admitted in court to tampering with evidence at the crime scene where Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic was shot dead.
Two policemen admitted to tampering with evidence at the scene of Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic’s murder, according to a written record of a decision by the Basic Court in the town of Mitrovica to release them from detention.
One of the policemen, identified by the initials Z.J., told the court that he did what the prosecution alleged “out of ignorance and lack of training, and not deliberately”, and that he sincerely regretted his actions.
The lawyer for the other policeman, identified as D.M., told the court that her client called an ambulance on his mobile phone, thinking that Ivanovic was sick but not realising what had happened to him, according to the court document.
During the hearing in Mitrovica on Monday, the prosecution said that the surveillance videos examined by the investigators showed Z.J. picking up a bullet casing from the crime scene and putting it in his pocket.
According to the prosecution, the second policemen, D.M., saw Z.J. doing this but did not react.
The prosecution also claimed the two officers allowed a passer-by to walk into the crime scene where Ivanovic was shot dead on January 16 in front of his party’s offices in northern Mitrovica.
The court ruled that the prosecution already has all the evidence from the crime scene, so there are no concerns that the suspects, who were released from custody on Monday, could destroy any evidence.
The two policemen from the mainly Serb northern part of Mitrovica were arrested on Saturday.
Ivanovic was the head of the Freedom, Democracy, Justice initiative, which was opposed to the main Belgrade-backed Kosovo Serb party, Srpska Lista, which is part of the Kosovo government.
The well-known politician had said several times that he and his family had received threats, and had asked Kosovo, Serbia and others for help, but without any response.
Serbia declared his murder an act of terrorism and demanded to be allowed to participate in bringing the culprits to justice.
Ivanovic was seen as a political moderate who advocated coexistence between Kosovo’s Serb minority and Albanian majority.
Before his death however he was being retried for allegedly ordering the murder of Kosovo Albanians in 1999 during the war in 1999. He pleaded not guilty.