Court extends custody of former minister

BELGRADE -- The Special Court in Belgrade has extended former Agriculture Minister Saša Dragin’s custody by another 30 days.

Saša Dragin (FoNet, file)
Saša Dragin (FoNet, file)

CES Mecon owner Zvonimir Nikezić and four of their associates will also remain in custody for another month, the Organized Crime Prosecutor's Office released in a statement on Friday.

Detention was also extended to former Pančevo artificial fertilizer plant Board of Directors President Radosav Vujačić, former Deputy Director of the Pančevo plant Mihailo Grujić, former Director of Kruševac-based Institute for Forage Crops Dragi Lazarević and owner of Terabo company Borislav Stojković.

They have been in custody since November 24 when they were arrested for abuse of office.

The Organized Crime Prosecutor's Office is conducting an investigation and charges the suspects with incurring damages worth around RSD 470mn to the state budget by selling mineral fertilizers illegally in 2009 and 2010.

The suspects are charged with abuse of office for which they could face up to 12 years in prison, and with bribery, for which they could be sentenced from three months to 12 years in prison if found guilty.

Dragin became the minister of environment in May 2007, and served as the minister of agriculture, forestry and water management from July 2008 to March 2011.

Nikezić was the owner of Ces Mecon, a management consulting and financial advisory firm, and a representative of the state share in Agrobanka's Board of Directors. He was also a longtime associate of former Prime Minister Mirko Cvetković.