Montenegrin citizen Risto Jovanovic was fined 6,700 euros by the Basic Court in Pristina on Wednesday for “inciting national and religious hatred and intolerance,” his lawyer, Jovana Filipovic, confirmed to Radio Free Europe (RFE).
She added that her client agreed to pay the fine, as otherwise she would be sentenced to six months in prison. Jovanovic was also barred from entering Kosovo for the next five years.
Justifying the decision, the judge of the Basic Court in Pristina, Vlora Pacolli, said that Jovanovic was convicted after being heard shouting “Kill the shipman”, “We will wash Kosovo with blood”, “Kosovo is Serbia”.
The pejorative term ‘Albanian’ is considered politically incorrect and with offensive content in the Serbian language for Albanians. Montenegrin Ambassador to Kosovo Mirsad Bibovic was part of the hearing on Wednesday when Jovanovic was sentenced in Pristina.
He was arrested on June 28, in Gazimestan, 15 kilometers from Pristina, during the Vidovdan celebration. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. According to the Kosovo Police, the defendant had called for nationalism and incited hatred.
Every year, the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well as Serbs from Kosovo and the region, celebrate June 28, the feast of Vidovdan, in Gazimestan, as a reminder of the suffering of Serbs in the battle against the Turkish army in Kosovo in 1389.
Following Jovanovic’s arrest, the Montenegrin Foreign Ministry said that the Embassy in Kosovo had talked to the authorities in Pristina and that it would take measures to protect the Montenegrin citizen.
Earlier, Montenegro’s ruling Democratic Front party called on the Montenegrin government to “demand his immediate release from its partner country, Kosovo”. Montenegrin Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic has said that if Jovanovic is not the perpetrator, he should be released immediately.