Serbia Detains Kosovo Serb Kingpin Radoicic on Weapons Charges

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Controversial businessman Milan Radoicic, who has admitted to organising an armed operation by a group of Serbs in north Kosovo that left four people dead, was detained for procuring and possessing large amounts of weapons.

Belgrade Higher Prosecutor’s Office questioned Milan Radoicic on Tuesday about allegations that he obtained large amounts of weapons and took them to northern Kosovo, where an armed Serb group was involved in a deadly shootout with Kosovo police last month.

Prosecutors alleged that Radoicic “procured weapons, ammunition and explosive devices of great destructive power from Tuzla” in Bosnia, “which were delivered to him in the city of Belgrade”.

They claimed that Radoicic then “transported and stored [the weapons] in unspecified locations” in Kosovo and “hid them in abandoned buildings and forests”.

The controversial Kosovo Serb businessman is further accused of “serious crimes against general security”. He denied committing the crimes, prosecutors said.

The Serbian Interior Ministry said earlier on Tuesday that police detained Radoicic and searched his apartment. He has been ordered into detention for up to 48 hours.

On Friday last week, Radoicic said that he took sole responsibility for a shootout in late September between Serb gunmen and Kosovo police officers that left one policeman dead in the northern Kosovo village of Banjska/Banjske. Three gunmen also died.

In an interview with US channel CNN on Monday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic hinted that Radoicic will face justice in Serbia for the violence in Banjska/Banjske.

Kosovo politicians have accused the Belgrade government of being behind the armed group led by Radoicic. Serbia has denied this.

Radoicic has said that he alone 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.

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 was “ready” to respond to Serbian prosecutors’ summons for questioning over the violence. 

Radoicic became 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 : Balkaninsight