Hundreds attend funeral of slain Kosovo Serb politician
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia’s prime minister, government officials and hundreds of others attended the funeral Thursday of a moderate Serb politician who was gunned down in Kosovo this week in an attack that has fueled concerns for Balkan stability.
The mourners poured into Belgrade’s New Cemetery starting early in the morning to pay their respects to Oliver Ivanovic, who was known as a voice of tolerance in ethnically tense Kosovo.
The 64-year-old Ivanovic was shot six times by unknown assailants Tuesday near his political party’s offices in the northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica.
The killing shocked many in the Balkans and aroused fears that it could worsen tensions in the volatile region that went through a series of wars in the 1990s, including in Kosovo.
Stability there remains shaky 10 years after the predominantly ethnic-Albanian region declared independence from Serbia.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, other officials and prominent public figures attended the funeral service for Ivanovic held by the Serbian Orthodox Church.
In a eulogy, Ivanovic’s long-time friend Tanja Petrovic said Ivanovic “fought and died for the truth.”
Ivanovic had enemies both among Kosovo Albanians and nationalist Serbs. He maintained relations with NATO and EU officials after Serbia lost control of northern Kosovo following NATO’s 1999 bombing to stop a deadly Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.
A Kosovo court convicted him of war crimes from the 1998-99 Kosovo war. The verdict eventually was overturned and a retrial was underway.