Trial opens in swine flu vaccines fraud case

Svetlana Vukajlović Popržen has denied charges of having embezzled millions of dinars of state budget funds in a procurement of swine flu vaccines in 2009.

Source: Tanjug

She is a former director of the Serbian Institute for Health Insurance.

"I did not understand the indictment, other than the fact that I have been charged with office abuse, but I do not understand what constitutes it. I do not admit to a criminal offence, because I believe that there has not been any," Vukajlović Popržen said briefly, entering her plea before the Belgrade High Court.

She said that all affairs in the procurement procedure were handled pursuant to laws and regulations, and that the government at the time had adopted a decision specifying the quantity and the type of the vaccines to be procured, adding that she had no impact on it.

Co-defendant Smiljka Mileusnic Adžić, the former Jugohemija director, also denied the charges and said that she did not understand the indictment and that she does not see any responsibility of her own.

Jugohemija farmacija and Detap directors Vladimir Gravar and Ljubomir Pavićević, who have also been charged in the case, said the same in their pleas.

They have been charged with embezzling more than EUR 1 million of state budget funds through illegitimate procurement of swine flu vaccines in 2009.

After an investigation, the Prosecutor's Office for Organized Crime raised an indictment in February 2012, but subsequently declared that it has no jurisdiction in the case, referring it to the High Prosecutor's Office.

Following months in detention, all those charged in the case were released pending trial after posting bails secured by real estate properties.

The trial will resume on June 16.

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