Serbia hoping new police leadership will reduce corruption

01/07/2014

The government said it is dissatisfied with the results of the fight against organised crime.

By Igor Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade -- 01/07/14

photo

Serbia fired five police chiefs following a television address by President Tomislav Nikolic on police corruption. [AFP]

Senior government officials said they hope a dramatic change in the Serbian police leadership will improve efforts to eliminate corruption and ultimately lead to the arrest of top reputed crime bosses.

The government decided to fire five of the seven police chiefs after a dramatic meeting earlier last month.

Indications of changes emerged last month as Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said high-level police tried to blackmail him by saying his 16-year-old son participated in an incident.

After it was learned that no incident took place, Vucic called for an investigation.

At the same time, suspected cocaine trafficker Darko Saric stated before a Belgrade court that the case against him was staged by the chief of the criminal police administration, Rodoljub Milovic.

Saric also testified that Milovic took a bribe of several million euros from a rival crime gang to protect them from being charged.

Subsequently, President Tomislav Nikolic and Vucic met with Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic on June 20th.

After the meeting, Nikolic addressed citizens on state television and called for dismissals in the police leadership.

"I am not satisfied with the fight against crime within the police and with the rooting out of evil from the streets -- drug dealers and drug cartels. In the struggle against such evil that is destroying our society, no results were achieved in the past period, obviously because those criminal groups have aides, accomplices and informants within the interior ministry," Nikolic said.

Vucic said the government had no choice but to dismiss the five police chiefs in order to "reset the system" and enable police to serve the citizenry.

"That was the only way," he said.

The changes were necessary and all suspected illegal activities should be investigated, Zlatko Nikolic, of the Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research in Belgrade, said.

"The government made a good move. The image of the police has been shaken up. This reaction had to happen," Nikolic told SETimes.

However, some experts objected, saying the chiefs were dismissed without tangible evidence.

"There have always been dismissals in the police. It is normal for everyone to choose a team to work with. But it is dangerous to do it this way, when the top of the police is criminalised without hard evidence," Mile Novakovic, former head of the criminal police administration, told SETimes.

The government has a right to dismiss officials, but the move was preceded by spin and fabricated affairs, sociologist Vesna Pesic said.

"The government is constantly fabricating some affairs in a bid to cover up the fact that there are actually no results or reforms," Pesic said.

Related Articles

Loading

However, officials from Vucic's Serbian Progressive Party (SNP) waved off the criticism.

There will be no political party-appointed personnel in the police, and police reform is one of the state's priorities, Jadranka Joksimovic, a member of the SNP presidency, said.

"The government did its job on the grounds of clear arguments [provided] by the state institutions," she said.

What can Serbia do to further improve authorities' ability to combat organised crime? Share your thoughts in the comments area.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
Loading
Vote
 
 
  • Email to a friend
  • icon Print Version
  • Share/Save/Bookmark

We welcome your comments on SETimes's articles.

It is our hope that you will use this forum to interact with other readers across Southeast Europe. In order to keep this experience interesting, we ask you to follow the rules outlined in the comments policy. By submitting comments, you are consenting to these rules. While SETimes.com encourages discussion on all subjects, including sensitive ones, the comments posted are solely the views of those submitting them. SETimes.com does not necessarily endorse or agree with the ideas, views, or opinions voiced in these comments. SETimes.com welcomes constructive discussion but discourages the use of copy-pasted materials, unaccompanied links and one-line slogans. This is a moderated forum. Comments deemed abusive, offensive, or those containing profanity may not be published.

SETimes's Comments Policy

Focus on Ukraine

Reportage

Region, Turkey optimistic about new EU leadersRegion, Turkey optimistic about new EU leaders

Regional officials say the recent personnel changes in the EU will have a positive impact on their countries' relationship with Brussels.

SETimes logo

Most Popular

Loading
Loading
Loading

Poll

Should Greece change how it handles illegal immigrants?

Yes
No
I don't know