4 accused of torching US embassy receive suspended sentences

The Belgrade Higher Court has handed down suspended sentences of five and six months to four indictees charged with setting fire to the US embassy in 2008.

Source: B92
(Thinkstock)
(Thinkstock)

By the court's decision, three of those accused have been acquitted.

The sentences will not be enforced if the convicted persons refrain from committing new criminal offenses within two years.

Dejan Vuckovic, Dragan Marinkov and Marko Novitovic have been convicted to six months suspended each, on charges of committing grave acts against general security, while Milan Tomas received five months.

Djordje Tomin, Nikola Kosanovic and Filip Backovic have been acquitted for lack of evidence.

The four who have been convicted have been found guilty of throwing stones at the US embassy, along with several unknown persons, smashing windows on the building, and then throwing a torch inside, which led to the fire, the court said in the reasoning of the verdict.

They will pay the costs of the court proceedings, while court fees for those acquitted will be paid from the budget.

The damage to the US embassy amounted to a total of about USD 900,000, but the embassy did not seek compensation.

This is the second-instance verdict, since the first verdict was abolished last fall by the Appellate Court, which ordered a retrial.

Both the prosecution and the defense have the right to appeal against this ruling to the Appellate Court, which is to make a final decision.

The first, overturned verdict also sentenced the defendants, from six to ten months in prison, while the Court of Appeals upheld sentences for violent behavior handed down to several indictees.

They were convicted because they committed, in front of the old building of the US embassy in Kneza Milosa Street, "a general dangerous act, causing danger to the life and body of people and property on a larger scale."

After the "Kosovo is Serbia" rally in front of the Serbian parliament, at approximately 6:30 pm, they came to the US embassy in an organized manner and threw stones, torches and other objects at it, thus causing a fire in which Novi Sad resident Zoran Vujovic was killed.

The US embassy did not seek compensation in this process, not did the family of Vujovic who burned in the fire in the embassy.

As for the police responsibility for security failures during and after the "Kosovo is Serbia" rally, the Higher Public Prosecutor's Office in Belgrade in May this year raised indictments against five police officers charged with grave acts against general safety and abuse of office.

The indictment was forwarded to the court on May 8 and has not yet been confirmed, i.w., its review is ongoing.

Crime

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