News 20 Mar 17

Belgrade Prison Chief Acquitted of ‘Kidnapping’ Milosevic

The former warden of Belgrade Central Prison, Dragisa Blanusa, was found not guilty of kidnapping former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic by sending him to The Hague in 2001.

Vanja Djuric
BIRN
Novi Sad
Slobodan Milosevic in court in The Hague. Photo: ICTY.

The Higher Court in Belgrade on Monday cleared Dragisa Blanusa of kidnapping Milosevic and of abusing his position to take photographs of the former Yugoslav president while he was in jail in the Serbian capital in 2001.

According to the charges, Blanusa allowed unknown persons to move Milosevic from the Belgrade prison on June 28, 2001 and later to transport him to the Netherlands, without any permission from the court.

But the judge said that it had been not proved that Blanusa organised transportation for Milosevic from Belgrade to The Hague without permission from the court and used force, Serbian newspaper Politika reported.

The charges claimed that Milosevic was sent to Tuzla in Bosnia and from there on a Dutch plane to The Hague, but the judge told that there was no proof of that either, so there was no evidence that that a kidnapping took place, Politika added.

Blanusa was also cleared on Monday of unlawfully publishing photos of Milosevic and confidential information about the former Yugoslav president’s talks with his lawyers and relatives while he was being detained in Belgrade Central Prison.

The photos of Milosevic reading a book in his cell, walking in the prison’s yard and getting into a police car were published in Blanusa's book 'I Incarcerated Milosevic' in 2001.

“I will try to forget this 16 years, and everything that happened to me and to my family,” the former prison warden told media outside the court.

“I would like to send a message to all my colleagues to believe in the state but to be careful. I don’t want them to be treated like me. It turned out that a job in a state institution became my private problem,” he added.

After Milosevic was transferred to The Hague for trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Blanusa was dismissed by Justice Minister Vladan Batic.

Milosevic and his wife Mirjana Markovic then filed a suit against Blanusa for abuse of office.

The lawsuit was rejected in 2002, but in 2005, the investigation was reopened.

Milosevic died in his prison cell in March 2006, before the verdict in his war crimes trial, but his wife continued the case against Blanusa.

The Milosevic family's lawyer Zdenko Tomanovic told BIRN on Monday that he will appeal against the verdict.

“The appeals court will decide about this verdict. I think that there is no state official who can do something that is against the law just because politicians from that period asked him to do it,” Tomanovic said.

Mirjana Markovic has been in exile in Russia for the past 14 years.

She is wanted for prosecution in Serbia but Moscow has refused to send her to Belgrade to face the charges.

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