NEWS21 DEC 2011 / 10:34

Kosovo Serb Brothers Arrested on Weapons Charges

Brothers accused by KFOR of organising barricades and violence in the Serb-run northern Kosovo arrested in Serbia.

Zvonko Veselinovic, 31, and his brother Zarko, 26, from Mitrovica in northern Kosovo were arrested on Tuesday on Mt Kopaonik on suspicion of involvement in criminal activities, Serbia’s prosecutor’s office said.

The brothers were in company of their two friends and all four were taken to the police station in Kraljevo.

An investigating judge ordered the detention of the two brothers for 48 hours while police investigated suspicions that they were involved in producing and transporting weapons and explosive devices.

The Commander of the NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo, KFOR, Erhard Drews, recently identified Zvonko Veselinovic as the main coordinator of recent riots on border crossings between Kosovo and Serbia.

KFOR officials said they were relieved to hear that Veselinovic was being investigated. “I can only say that we in KFOR are satisfied [though] we do not want to comment further as the case is not under KFOR jurisdiction,” KFOR spokesperson Uwe Nowicki told Serbian broadcaster RTS on Tuesday night.

Veselinovic was well known as a so-called “bridge watcher”. These are groups of Serbs who patrol the main bridge in Mitrovica dividing the town between Serb and Albanian sectors.

According to local media reports, Veselinovic was involved in smuggling oil into Kosovo. Prosecutors for the European Union mission in Kosovo, EULEX, have issued a warrant seeking his arrest on smuggling and tax evasion charges.

In October, a New York Times on smuggling in Kosovo referred both to Veselinovic and a less powerful ethnic Albanian counterpart, Mentor Beqiri, as figures involved in the illegal trade.