09 Nov 10

Arrests Ongoing in Serbian Passport Scam

Serbian police have raided addresses across the country in a hunt for Kosovo residents alleged to have acquired Serbian passports by deception and those alleged to have assisted them, Balkan Insight has learned.

 

Bojana Barlovac
Belgrade

An Interior Ministry source told Balkan Insight that Serbian police were targeting Kosovo Albanians, Serbs and Roma that have obtained Serbian passports by deception, using fraudulent residency documentation.

The arrests have been prompted by allegations that Kosovo residents have been fraudulently registering at Serbian addresses in order to apply for biometric passports.

The source would not reveal the locations of the operation or the number of persons sought or arrested, as the police action was ongoing.

With the news announced on Monday that Bosnian and Albanian citizens have been granted visa-free travel to the Schengen zone, Kosovo residents are the only people in the Balkans who now need visas to travel to the zone.

It is believed that the intermediaries that have been providing Kosovo residents with residency documentation and arranging for the provision of Serbian passports are former employees of the Serbian Interior Ministry, who worked there in the Nineties.

Additionally, Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic told reporters in the town of Prokuplje on Sunday that four police officers from the nearby municipality of Merosina, accused of participating in the fraudulent issue issue of passports to Albanians from Kosovo are on currently on trial. Local media in the municipality of Merosina, report that persons were paying €200 - €300 to obtain biometric passports.

The EU decision to lift visa restrictions on Serbian nationals travelling to the Schengen zone last December affects only those registered at addresses under the control of the Serbian government. And although Belgrade recognises Kosovo residents as Serbian nationals, they are unable to acquire the Serbian biometric passports necessary for visa-free travel.

 

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