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NGOs and opposition parties question police claims that well-known advocate of Montenegro's independence hit one of their officers and urge investigation of the case.
Anti-government Montenegrins and NGOs have rushed to defend Slavko Perovic, former leader of the Liberal Alliance of Montenegro, after he became involved in an altercation with a policeman and a woman in the coastal town of Herceg Novi and was himself injured.
The indicent occurred after a woman complained to the police that she was verbally attacked and her husband physically assaulted by two men, one of whom was Perovic.
When police tried to bring him in to the police station, the former opposition party leader refused to go and started insulting a policeman, police said on Thursday.
He then hit Bozidar Jaukovic, a police officer, who subsequently pushed him away and Perovic fell to the ground, they added.
Although he was finally taken to the police station, where it was determined that he had alcohol in his blood, the former politician was hospitalized on health grounds.
During the Nineties, Perovic's party was the sole party advocating Montenegro's independence from Serbia.
Following the renewal of Montenegrin independence in 2006, Perovic obtained almost iconic status in the public.
Although now without formal political engagements, he has remained a trenchant opponent of the country's longtime rulers.
Some NGOs and political parties opposed to the government have rushed to his defence, doubting the police statement about the incident.
The Civic Alliance, an NGO, said it had information that the policeman had firstly insulted Perovic and that the officer had been convicted before for similar incidents.
The opposition Movement for Changes also claimed the event looked like a police provocation and asked for an urgent investigation.
Public condemnations of the police action also came from Liberal Party, New Serbian Democracy.
Filip Vujanovic, Montenegro's President, condemned the incident, emphasising that Perovic once chaired a party that would be remembered for its consistent struggle for Montenegrin independence.
Police, meanwhile, say they will will hand the case, along with relevant medical documentation, to the State Prosecutor in Herceg Novi to get an opinion about whether the police exceeded their authorities, and whether one of their officers had been attacked while on duty.
Officer Jaukovic has been suspended until the prosecutor gives an opinion about the case.
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