Ex-minister faces new charges over "dangerous substances"

The police have filed new criminal charges to the Prosecutor's Office for Organized Crime against former cabinet minister Saša Dragin.

Source: B92, Tanjug
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Dragin, who held the agriculture portfolio in the previous government, is suspected of allowing "dangerous substances to be imported to Serbia and processed and stored here," Tanjug said it learned from the police.

According to reports of Belgrade media, in the new criminal charges Dragin is accused of adopting the book of regulations on fertilizer examination methods in August 2009 although this point was not in the jurisdiction of the ministry headed by him.

The controversial book of regulations drastically increased the upper limit of radioactive contamination or allowed concentration of radionuclides in inorganic fertilizer.

This made it possible for 2,900,000 kilograms of fertilizer with increased radioactivity to be imported to Serbia.

The Belgrade-based daily Blic reported that the book of regulations adopted during the mandate of minister Dragin remained in force for only a month and a half and was annulled on September 23 when the controversial measures were invalidated.

However, Dragin's lawyer, Vladimir Horović, said that his client, while serving as minister, acted "exclusively in line with the law."

"All acts, including the mentioned book of regulations on fertilizer examination methods, were adopted with the goal of harmonization with European regulations. Allowed radioactivity levels in the regulations are identical to the values set by the European directive number 96/29 EURATOM. These values are valid in Serbia today," he said.

In May, the Prosecutor's Office for Organized Crime charged Dragin and 20 of his associates with damaging the Pančevo-based fertilizer plant Azotara by around EUR 25 million and the preliminary hearing will continue on November 7.

Dragin spent nine months in detention and is currently held in house arrest under electronic supervision.

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