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News 06 Oct 16

Serbia, France Unite to Tackle Arms Smugglers

Paris and Belgrade are set to form joint teams to fight arms smugglers, as Serbia remains an important source of cheap weapons for illegal arms traders.

Milivoje Pantovic
BIRN
Belgrade
Destruction of the illegal arms. Photo: SEESAC

Serbia and France on Thursday will sign a protocol empowering the two countries to launch joint investigation teams to combat illicit arms trading.

Mladen Nenadic, Serbia’s Prosecutor for Organised Crime, told a conference on Wednesday that over 20 years on from the Balkan wars of the 1990s, the region is still full of arms that are being smuggled to Western countries.

“Terrorist attacks on Western countries show the need to address the issue of the illegal arms trade more thoroughly,” he said adding that the illegal market in arms in France is “especially interesting” for criminals due to the big demand for them there.

 “The problem of the illegal arms trade has a central place in our fight against crime, since the criminals depend heavily on it,” the French ambassador to Serbia, Christine Moro, said.

 Revolvers, automatic rifles, hand grenades and mines are routinely smuggled from Serbia to the EU with ammunition of different calibers, reports say.

Dimitrije Popic, Serbia’s Deputy Prosecutor for Organised crime, told the conference that the low price of weapons in Serbia was a key incentive.

 “Serbian automatic rifles cost around 150 to 200 euros, while for instance, those produced in Scandinavian countries cost up to 2,000 or 3,000 euros,” he remarked.

“Arms are smuggled in parts and in personal cars but they are also carried out of the country on buses and trains,” he added.

From Thursday, however, the two countries will be able to launch joint investigation teams  into organised crime, the illegal arms trade and terrorism.

“The fight against terrorism, the illegal arms trade and organised crime is one of the greatest challenges,” Serbian State Prosecutor Zagorka Dolovac said.

“We hope that this model of joint teams gives us a path towards future collaboration in the fight against crime and terrorism,” Dolovac added.

 

 

 

 

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