The Church of Serbia- August-September 2015
Bishop of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija Teodosije visited today Mr. Oliver Ivanović at the North Mitrovica hospital. Mr Ivanović has been refusing to take food in the last 15 days in his protest to the decision of the Court to deny his request to be released from prison pending the outcome of his trial. Bishop Teodosije conveyed to Mr. Ivanović his support in the name of teh Diocese regarding his struggle to prove his innocence, but also, as his Bishop and a spiritual father he requested him to stop the hunger strike. We all need Oliver, Bishop said, but healthy, particularly for his family. Bishop Teodosije expressed his strong belief that Mr. Ivanović, whom we all know as a man of courage and dignity, will obey his advice and start taking food.
The health situation of Mr. Oliver Ivanović is not good, what BishopTeodosije could personally see and his health could seriously deteriorate in case that he continues the hunger strike. That is why, after the last week Diocesan Appeal, Bishop Teodosije sent today his personal letter to international representatives in Kosovo asking them to invest their personal authority to provide Mr. Ivanović his right to be released from prison pending the outcome of his trial, which would considerably help his recovery.
The Bishop’s letter is following:
Appeal of Bishop Teodosije to international representatives in Kosovo on the situation of Mr. Oliver Ivanović
I would like to address you on the occasion of my today’s visit to North Mitrovica hospital and my conversation with Mr.Oliver Ivanović.
As you are aware Mr. Ivanović has recently decided to start his hunger strike on August 7 after EULEX rejected his request to be released from prison pending the outcome of his trial. My personal impression is that his health condition is grave and that it may deteriorate in the days to come. As his Bishop I tried to persuade him to start taking food for the sake of his own life and his family. However, as much as I cannot approve his hunger strike, I cannot but understand that for him it is the only way to raise awareness of the utterly humiliating situation he’s been found after continual denials to his request to be released from detention pending the outcome of his trial.
I know very well that I cannot enter into the legal aspects of his trial and can only hope that the court decision will be just. However, continual denial of his request to be released from detention pending the outcome of his trial, particularly now when dozens of witnesses have been interviewed and apparently there is no clear evidence to corroborate his alleged involvement in the crime he has been accused of has brought Mr. Ivanović in a very complicated health situation which is a cause of pain to his family and all who know him. So far his behavior in the detention unit has been more than exemplary and the Government of Serbia has already given very strong guarantees that he will remain available for further legal process. Mr. Ivanović is a man o honor and this trial for him is important to clear his name from allegations he and many others strongly believe are unfounded. Having this in mind, and particularly his moral authority among many Serbs and Albanians whom he helped in previous years I strongly believe that the court should show clemency and allow him to defend himself out of prison.
Mr. Ivanović is not an ordinary citizen but one of the leading Serbian political figures who has also built a high moral credibility among the Kosovo citizens of Albanian origin as well as many international leaders. He definitely does not deserve to be physically and morally broken by persistent denial of his temporary release before the end of his trial. If the Court could review its former decision and grant him a temporary release pending the outcome of his trial, I am deeply convinced that this would help Mr. Ivanović to recover his health and organize his defense in peace and with moral support of his family which he misses so much.
With hope that you would invest your personal authority to resolve this issue and help Mr. Ivanović, please accept expressions of my sincere respect
BISHOP OF RAŠKA AND PRIZREN