Opposition leader says corruption case is "political"

BELGRADE -- The decision to detain Aleksandar Bijelić "confirms this is a political process in order to criminalize me, my environment and the whole Democratic Party."

(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)

This is according to Dragan Đilas, former Belgrade mayor and leader of the opposition Democratic Party (DS).

Đilas issued a statement after a court announced that former Belgrade city administration officials Aleksandar Bijelić and Marko Blagojević were placed in 30-day detention for fear they may influence the witnesses and disturb the public.

The two former officials and several others are suspected of rigging a tender called to select a company to carry out reconstruction works on Belgrade's longest street. Đilas, however, pointed out in his statements that authorities were "deliberately ignoring the facts in this case."

"The fact is that on Saturday, after charges were read to them and they were acquainted with the accusations, they were released, which enabled them to, if they wanted, influence the witnesses. The fact is that the media controlled by the regime has been using the information from the investigation and lies to disturb the public for more than a year," he said, and added:

"The fact is that the entire reconstruction project of the (King Aleksandar) Boulevard was funded by the European Investment Bank in accordance with its procedures. The fact is that we received a donation of six million euros for the project from the European Commission. These facts make it clear to all those who want see what this is all about."

Đilas noted that "no one is in power forever," and that the same applies to current authorities.

"Serbia will become a country in which decisions are made by institutions, not one man, and I will fight for that, regardless of the price that my closest associates and myself must pay," said Đilas.

Đilas also reacted on Saturday when Bijelić and Blagojević were first questioned, and said that no member of his team from the period he served as mayor broke the law.