Serbia has arrested Milan Radoicic, the alleged leader of a group of gunmen who killed a Kosovo police officer on September 24, the interior ministry announced on Tuesday. Radoicic, a former influential Kosovo Serb politician, is accused of procuring weapons from Bosnia and orchestrating the attack that involved around 30 gunmen in the village of Banjska near the northern border with Serbia.
The gunmen ambushed a police patrol and later barricaded themselves in an Orthodox monastery, resulting in a deadly shootout that lasted for hours. One police officer was killed and four others were wounded in the incident.
Radoicic was remanded in custody for 48 hours and handed over to the Belgrade public prosecutor’s office, the ministry said in a statement. He denied having committed the crimes he is suspected of during a hearing. He had resigned from his post as vice-president of the Serbian List, the main political grouping of Kosovo Serbs, last week. He was questioned by Serbian police for the first time on Saturday, after Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he was in “central Serbia” and available for questioning.
The killing of the officer has sparked a diplomatic crisis between Belgrade and Pristina, which have been locked in a bitter dispute over Kosovo’s independence since 2008. Kosovo’s government has accused Serbia of backing the entire operation and supplying the weapons and equipment used by the gunmen.