Serb List official detained in Serbia following Banjska incident in Kosovo

Serb List official detained in Serbia following Banjska incident in Kosovo
The armed group led by Milan Radoicic killed a Kosovan police officer then forced their way into a local monastery leading to a standoff with security forces. / bne IntelliNews
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje October 3, 2023

The onetime Kosovo Serb official who admitted causing the incident in Kosovo that led to the deaths of four men has been arrested in Serbia, the interior ministry in Belgrade announced.

Milan Radoicic, the former deputy head of the main party of Kosovo Serbs, the Serb List,  was detained by the Serbian police for up to 48 hours on October 3.

The Serbian police took action a few days after Radoicic openly accepted full responsibility for his role in the incident that occurred on September 24 in the Kosovo village of Banjska, where one Kosovo police officer and three Serbian men lost their lives under unclear circumstances. Radoicic claimed that he acted alone without informing Belgrade.

The detention took place after the police officers of the Criminal Police Directorate searched his apartment and other premises.

“He was taken to the Higher Public Prosecutor's Office in Belgrade following a criminal complaint,” the ministry statement stated.

A day earlier, President Aleksandar Vucic affirmed in a CNN interview that Radojicic is at the disposal of state authorities, and prosecutors will fulfill their responsibilities.

On September 30, the Serbian Interior Ministry announced that Radoicic, in response to an invitation from Serbian state authorities, arrived at the ministry accompanied by his lawyer to provide a statement regarding the circumstances of the incident in Banjska.

On September 24, Kosovo media reported the incident in the predominantly Serbian northern region, where a Kosovar police officer lost his life and another was injured in a gunfire exchange. Kosovo authorities have classified this event as a terrorist attack, alleging support from official authorities in Belgrade, a claim which Belgrade denies.

Radoicic's lawyer Goran Petronijevic conveyed his statement to the media on September 29. In the statement, Radoicic announced his resignation from the position of deputy president of the Serb List and expressed willingness to cooperate with the competent authorities of Serbia. He emphasised that the attack was unrelated to his previous political involvement, asserting that he acted independently, without assistance or prior notification to Belgrade authorities, due to differing viewpoints.

Radoicic and his compatriots returned to Kosovo with the intention of reinforcing resistance against Kosovo’s PM Albin Kurti's regime, according to his statement. He contended that the Kosovo police officer's death was the result of an accidental explosion, not a bullet, which subsequently escalated tensions, leading to a fierce clash between the opposing sides.

His lawyer, Petronijevic, believed Radoicic bore no responsibility, arguing that the individuals he organised were defending their country against acts of terror.

The statement further argued that Kosovo and Metohija are an integral part of Serbia under UN Resolution 1244, and in the north of Kosovo and Metohija, armed special units of the Kosovo police, according to the Brussels agreement, should not be present.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade does not recognize it as a separate country, despite EU efforts to normalise relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

In the aftermath of the Banjska incident, Kosovan Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla released a video showing the Kosovo police raid on Radoicic's opulent villa in Ujman/Gazivoda in Kosovo. Svecla subsequently announced that Radoicic's villa would be seized and converted into a police station.

Svecla recently stated that with the assistance of international partners, Kosovo will formally request the extradition  from Serbia of all individuals involved in the planning and execution of the recent "terrorist incident" in the village of Banjska.