Serbia: Arrest of the alleged leader of the commando who killed a Kosovo policeman

Serbia arrested on Tuesday 3 October a businessman and political leader of the Kosovo Serbs. Milan Radoicic is accused of participating in the armed attack in Kosovo on 24 September that killed a Kosovo policeman, causing one of the most serious escalations in relations between Belgrade and Pristina in years.

Milan Radoicic (bottom, right), the businessman and vice-president of the Serbian List (Srpska lista), the main political party of Kosovo Serbs, at the National Assembly in Belgrade, February 2, 2023. AFP - ANDREJ ISAKOVIC

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Serb of North Kosovo, organizer of barricades, during the crises between Belgrade and Pristina, criminal, but also politician and businessman, Milan Radoicic was arrested Tuesday, October 3 by the Serbian police. Justice suspects him of criminal association and arms smuggling between Bosnia and Kosovo in the case of the attack by paramilitaries of Kosovar police, which caused four deaths, on 24 September. A few days ago, Radoicic claimed responsibility for the attack, but he now pleads not guilty, explains our correspondent in Belgrade, Laurent Rouy.

The prosecutor's office said Radoicic was suspected of obtaining "weapons, ammunition and explosive devices" from Bosnia between January and September, and then transporting and storing them in Kosovo until the day of the attack. Kosovo's President Vjosa Osmani called Tuesday in an interview on CNN for "Radoicic and the other terrorists to be handed over to the Republic of Kosovo, so that justice can be done."

Radoicic has long been considered the most influential Serbian politician in northern Kosovo, and close to Belgrade's power. He has been targeted since 2021 by US sanctions, suspected of organized crime and corruption.

Serbia begins to withdraw troops to the border

On 24 September, clashes broke out between Kosovo police special forces and a heavily armed paramilitary commando in northern Kosovo. Initially, a Kosovar policeman was killed and another wounded on a barricade set up at the entrance to the village of Banjska, 15 km from the Serbian border. Kosovo police then launched an operation against the group, which had holed up in a Serbian Orthodox Church monastery. Three of its members, all Kosovo Serbs, were killed, three others arrested. The others fled, including Milan Radoicic. The day after the clashes, Kosovo's interior minister, Xhelal Sveçla, accused Radoicic of leading the commando. Twenty-four hours that had generated the strongest tensions in years between Serbia and Kosovo.

With this arrest, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic intends to give a signal of additional détente, after withdrawing several thousand of his soldiers from the border with Kosovo, following an ultimatum from Washington. Serbia, hitherto considered a reliable negotiating partner by the West, has seen its capital of confidence collapse. Belgrade, which denies responsibility for the attack, is now trying to circumvent the increasingly precise threat of international sanctions.

In a sign of these tensions, after Britain, Romania announced on Tuesday that it was sending a hundred soldiers to reinforce the NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo. The Atlantic Alliance said Friday it was ready to reinforce the personnel of KFOR to "deal with the situation".

(

And with AFP)

" READ ALSO In the News: new tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, all losers?

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