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News 17 May 17

Serbia Denies Receiving Marovic Extradition Demand

Serbia's Justice Ministry says it has not received any request from Montenegro to extradite the former president of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic.

Maja Zivanovic
BIRN
Belgrade

Svetozar Marovic. Photo: Facebook.

Serbian justice officials insist that have not received any request from Montenegro to extradite Svetozar Marovic.

Montenegro has reportedly issued an international arrest warrant for the former president of Serbia and Montenegro, who is currently in Belgrade undergoing medical treatment because he has not obeyed a call from Montenegro to return home and serve his jail sentence for corruption of three years and nine months.

“We don’t have anything about Svetozar Marovic because no one asked anything from us about him,” the Serbian Ministry of Justice told BIRN.

Marovic has been in Serbia for several months now. His lawyers say he was admitted to a mental health institution on April 7.

“It’s up to Montenegro's Ministry of Justice to decide whether it has any intention of seeking the extradition that way [via Interpol],” the Serbian ministry added.

No information on Marovic’s warrant has been published on Interpol’s official website as yet.

Marovic was supposed to start serving his prison term in Montenegro after a court rejected his request for a postponement of his jail sentence.

The presiding judge of the court in Kotor, Branko Vuckovic, ruled that Marovic was not too ill to serve his sentence. His lawyers appealed, insisting on his poor health, and requested extra medical expertise.

A former speaker of the Montenegrin parliament and the last president of the rump Yugoslav state, Marovic pleaded guilty to corruption charges in August 2016 and agreed to serve nearly three years in prison.

He is obliged also to return 1.2 million euros after he admitted abusing his political position to benefit a criminal group involved in property in his hometown of Budva.

Widely perceived as a country plagued by corruption, Marovic was the first member of the political elite to be sent to prison for this offence.

He was the "number-two" figure in Montenegrin politics for years, behind the country's recently retired longtime prime minister, Milo Djukanovic.

Responding to criticism of the fact that Marovic is not it jail yet, Montenegrin judicial officials have said they have done everything according to the law and within deadlines.

Marovic was arrested in December 2015 in connection with a long-running corruption case focusing on affairs in Budva.

Many of his relatives have now been either arrested, convicted or accused of corruption and abuse of power in relation to crimes in the coastal town.

His son, Milos, his brother, Dragan, Budva's former deputy mayor, and his aunt, Mirjana, all spent months in custody following their arrests.

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