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news 12 Dec 12

Serbian Police Arrest Miroslav Miskovic

Serbian police have detained Miroslav Miskovic, his son Marko and eight other persons on suspicion of corruption.

Bojana Barlovac
BIRN
Belgrade

Serbian police on Wednesday arrested the owner of Delta Holding, Miroslav Miskovic, and nine other persons on suspicion of abuses during privatization of road construction and maintenance companies.

The suspects include his son, Marko, the owner of Mera Investment Fund, and Marko Djuraskovic, the owner of the road building company Nibens Group.

Miskovic Threatens Vucic

According to media reports, when he was detained, Miskovic told the police that Vucic would not live to take part in tonight's programme on the public broadcaster RTS.

Serbian police informed Vucic about the threat and have increased security measures, local media say.

Vucic wrote on his Facebook and Twitter account: "No one has ever beaten Serbia neither will Miroslav Miskovic." See video below.

Delta's lawyer office Jankovic, Popovic and Miric said in a statement that thier client did not resist the arrest and denied he made any threats against Vucic.

"The truth is that Miroslav [Miskovic] said that 'Aleksandar [Vucic] cannot take part in the RTS show tonight unless he arrests me first,'" the lawyers' office said in a statement.

Miroslav and Marko Miskovic and Djuraskovic are suspected of having illegally obtained more that 30 million euro, the Serbian public service broadcaster RTS reported.

The group will be remanded in custody for 48 hours and taken to the Prosecutors Office for Organized Crime.

Serbia's new government has pledged to root out corruption, which is often cited in EU reports as one of the biggest problems in the Balkan country.

Aleksandar Vucic, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of corruption and the leader of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, said that the group was arrested in relation to 24 cases of privatizations in Serbia, earlier flagged by the EU as problematic.

"Two things have been proven in Serbia - that nobody is protected and untouchable and that the state is stronger than any individual," Vucic said on Wednesday afternoon.

The Delta Holding owner was first questioned by the police on December 3. Djuraskovic was questioned on the same day.

Encouraging move

The European Commission is encouraged with the moves of the Serbian government in battle against corruption, said Peter Stano, the spokesperson of the EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele.

Stano emphasized that battle against corruption was one of the main challenges Serbia is facing and emphasized that what matters was a consistent, comprehensive and unselective approach.

Marko Miskovic was questioned on Friday about his companies' cooperation with Nibens Group.

On November 13, Vucic forced Miskovic to admit that he was a co-owner of the daily newspaper, Press. Two days later, Miskovic withdrew from its ownership and the newspaper ceased print editions.

Born on July 5, 1945, Miskovic grew up in the central Serbian town of Krusevac and graduated from Belgrade University's Faculty of Economy in 1971.

He briefly entered politics in 1990 as Serbian deputy PM under the late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic but left the post after less than six months and started Delta M company which became very successful in the following years.

In 2007, Forbes Magazine named Miskovic as the richest man in Serbia, with a fortune estimated at about €1 billion.

Delta Holding, which includes land, a major stake in the Port of Belgrade, shopping centers and automobile dealerships, employs thousands of people, making it the largest non-government employer in the country.

The company works in Bulgaria, Bosnia, Macedonia and Cyprus.

Investigations into Delta and allegations of monopolies controlled by Miskovic have dominated the country in the past decade, but no action has been taken.

Besides Miskovic, the target of the fight against corruption has also included few heads of public companies in Serbia and three former ministers.

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