Milan Radoicic said on Friday that he takes sole responsibility for the weekend shootout between Serb gunmen and Kosovo police officers that left one policeman dead in the northern Kosovo village of Banjska/Banjske.
In a statement read to media in Belgrade by his legal representative Goran Petonijevic, Radoicic said he organised what he called a “defence” operation against the Kosovo authorities himself, without the knowledge of his party, Srpska Lista, or the Serbian authorities in Belgrade.
“I inform all persecutors of the Serbian people, from [Kosovo Prime Minister Albin] Kurti to his many foreign helpers, that I personally made all the logistical preparations for the defence of our people from the occupiers, and this act of mine had no other character or intention and has nothing to do with my previous political engagement,” Radoicic said in the statement.
“I didn’t inform anyone from the government structures of the Republic of Serbia about this, nor from the local political structures from the north of Kosovo and Metohija, nor did I get any help from them, because we already had different views on the previous methods of resisting Kurti’s terror,” he added.
The statement did not say what led to the shooting in which the police officer was killed, only that “the death of the policeman happened by accident, after which a fierce fight began on both sides”.
Radoicic’s statement also did not clarify why the group of armed Serbs was in Banjska/Banjske, or how they got the arsenal of expensive weaponry and vehicles that the Kosovo police found there after arresting some of the gunmen.
Kosovo politicians have accused the Belgrade government of being behind the armed group. Serbia has denied this.
Radoicic also said in his statement that he is resigning from his position of vice-president of Srpska Lista, a Belgrade-backed party representing Kosovo Serbs.
He added that he is “ready” to respond to Serbian prosecutors’ summons for questioning over the violence. On Wednesday evening, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told media that there are “questions that he [Radoicic] will have to answer”. Vucic confirmed that Radoicic is in Serbia.
Kosovo police continued their investigations on Friday, searching five locations in three northern municipalities, including the Grey Restaurant in the north of the city of Mitrovica, based on a court order.
“These operations are related to the latest developments in Banjska village and are being conducted by relevant police units, in the presence of Special Prosecutor,” a police statement said.
Police added that the searches are being carried out “in coordination with [EU rule-of-law mission] EULEX and [NATO’s Kosovo fotrce] KFOR”.
Radoicic was initially linked to Sunday’s violence when he was identified as being present near Banjska monastery with several armed men in a video released by Kosovo’s Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla on Tuesday. Radoicic’s representative could not confirm whether or not the video was authentic.
On Friday, Svecla issued another video, this time showing Radoicic’s expensive villa near Ujman/Gazivoda lake in Kosovo.
The prosecution meanwhile confirmed that two cars and other possessions were confiscated from Radoicic’s properties. It also said that a request will be submitted to the court for the confiscation of the lakeside villa, a penthouse apartment and a shop.
Radoicic become vice president of Srpska Lista in June 2018 is considered to be the real powerbroker in the Serb majority north of Kosovo.
He is wanted in Kosovo in connection with a corruption case involving illegal construction in the Brezovica mountain resort area. Moreover, an indictment in the case of the murdered Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic mentions Radoicic as one of the prime suspects leading the organised crime group that murdered Ivanovic, although he has not been indicted.
He was blacklisted by the US in December 2021 for alleged involvement in organised crime.
Source : Balkan Insight