Serbia ‘Arrests’ Fugitive Student

Belgrade - Miladin Kovacevic, sought by the US government for allegedly assaulting an American student and fleeing the country, has been taken in for questioning by Serbian Interior Ministry officials.

The government’s press bureau said in a statement that Kovacevic was taken in for questioning by an investigative judge at a Belgrade municipal court.

Speaking to the Associated Press news agency, Kovacevic’s father, Petar, said his son has not been arrested but rather went in voluntarily for questioning.

The statement also said Slobodan Nenadovic was also taken in for questioning.

Nenadovic was chief of the New York consulate when a temporary passport was issued to Kovacevic earlier this year, allowing the then student to leave the country and flee to his native Serbia.
The passport was issued by Vice-Consul Igor Milosevic.

Serbia’s Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic immediately suspended Milosevic and since then he has been put on trial in Serbia. Nenadovic has previously testified in his trial. 
Kovacevic, a former student and basketball player at the University of Binghamton in New York State, was allegedly involved in a fight with another student at a campus bar.

Bryan Steinhauer was left in a coma and Kovacevic was charged with assault and inflicting grievous bodily harm.

He was released on bail for US$100,000 (€67,870) and ordered to surrender his passport to US authorities.

Since Serbia’s constitution bans the extradition of its citizens, Belgrade said Kovacevic could go back to the US if he decided so, or he could face trial at home if the US accepted that.

Last month, a US prosecutor offered a total of 12 years in jail to the fugitive Serb, 10 for inflicting injuries and two for avoiding justice.

Both Kovacevic’s family and his lawyer refused the offer, saying they were “astonished by the level of the prosecutor’s arrogance. Kovacevic was offered guilt admittance without a trial which means that the presumption of innocence is ignored.”

Kovacevic’s lawyer Veselin Cerovic said Kovacevic would not go back to the US fearing an unfair trial but he was ready to face justice in Serbia.

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