Alleged leader of Banjska, Kosovo raid, M.R. released to home detention; questions surround alleged Serbian buildup

The Serbia ambush repercussions continue—with various twists—this week, as international reaction continues to be negative to the release from custody of former Serbian List politician and alleged leader of the raid, now referred to as M.R., yet accusations of a third buildup may have been exaggerated, according to local media.

With regard to the former, a Serbian court rejected the continued detention of M.R., which had been requested by a Serbian prosecutor based on flight risk. That said, his passport has been seized, he has be essentially restricted to home arrest and he has been barred from a return to Kosovo at this time.

Serbia—and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic—have continued to bear the brunt of international anger with regard to the ambush by 30 well-armed ethnic Serbs of Kosovo police forces near Banjska, Kosovo, which turned into an all-day gun battle Sunday, Sept. 24. Since that time, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti has claimed that Serbia wants war and that Serbia was in the process of sending forces from three directions to the border.

Last week, a US government spokesman, John Kirby, called the Serbian buildup “unprecedented” even though Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic denied that this was the case.

Yet on Oct. 4, a US State Department spokesman, Vedant Patel, seemed to partially backtrack on previous statements. At a press briefing he stated that since Sept. 29 there had been a “noticeable withdrawal” of Serbian military from the border, according to the Serbian newspaper B92, with Patel adding that he expects further “de-escalation.”

The same site noted that the previous US enjoy for dialogue between Serbian and Kosovo, Richard Grenell, stated that the US was wrong about the build up of Serbian forces.

Photo of Aleksandar Vucic by Medija centar Beograd, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

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