Former minister to remain in jail pending trial

BELGRADE -- The Belgrade Court of Appeals has extended by another three months the custody for former Minister of Economy and Privatization Predrag Bubalo.

Predrag Bubalo (FoNet, file)
Predrag Bubalo (FoNet, file)

Bubalo is detained on corruption charges related to the sale of shares of Luka Beograd (Port of Belgrade) to Worldfin.

The court reached its decision at the request of the prosecutor for organized crime.

Bubalo and his associates were arrested on June 14, and the latest decision by the court extends his custody to December 8, Tanjug was told at the Court of Appeals.

Custody was extended for five of Bubalo's associates as well, Miodrag Đorđević, Aleksandar Gračanac, Goran Mrđa, Aleksej Misailović and Jasmina Dragutinović.

The court decided there were still reasons to extend the custody because of the possible sentence for the crime they were suspected of, being an accomplice in abuse of office (for which the sentence is over 10 years in prison), and because the gravity of the crime led to disturbance of the public.

The court kept in mind that witnesses needed to be interviewed and that the prosecutor decided on August 26, 2013, to get opinion from economic and financial experts, the court said.

Former head of the company Luka Beograd Miroslav Drobac and the company's former financial director Dušan Kosovac are suspected of abusing power, but they are no longer in custody.

Worldfin is based in Luxembourg and owned by Serbian businessman Milan Beko.

Bubalo and his associates were arrested on suspicion of abusing their position during the sale of shares of Luka Beograd, which resulted in over EUR 5.7 million in losses for the government.