Former minister to spend another 30 days in custody

BELGRADE -- The Organized Crime Chamber of the Belgrade District Court has ordered that Saša Dragin and eight others be kept in custody for another 30 days.

Saša Dragin (file)
Saša Dragin (file)

They were detained in a corruption case concerning the Pančevo-based fertilizer producer Azotara.

The prosecution on Thursday deemed the suspects a flight risk, Tanjug was told at the court.

In addition to the former minister, the list includes owner of CES Mecon consulting company Zvonimir Nikezić, Radosav Vujacic, Mihajlo Grujić, Borislav Stojkovic, Dragan Tanasković, Dragan Mitić, Gordan Marković and Aleksa Obradović, the court said in a release.

The court rejected the defense motions to substitute house arrest for detention.

Two days ago an appellate court had reversed the Organized Crime Chamber's decision to extend custody for Dragin, a former agriculture minister from the ranks of the now opposition Democratic Party (DS), and the others, ordering it to provide concrete reasons for keeping each accused.

On May 22 the Organized Crime Prosecutor's Office charged Dragin, and his associates with siphoning several hundred million Serbian dinars from Azotara through the sale of subsidized mineral fertilizers.

Dragin has been in custody since November 24 last year, when Nikezić and five other private business owners were also arrested. The investigation has been expanded four times since then.