"Top city organs" behind controversial demolition - PM

"Top organs of city authorities" in Belgrade are behind the April demolition in the city's Savamala district, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday.

Source: B92, Vecernje novosti

He spoke during an extraordinary news conference held at the Serbian Assembly building.

But Vucic did not reveal any names, saying instead that the persons in question "will bear the full responsibility" and that he was "certain their intent was neither bad nor criminal."

Asked whether Belgrade Mayor Sinisa Mali had lost his confidence, Vucic said: "As an ordinary citizen, I see Mali as one of the best mayors in the history of the city."

"I won't go into any details, but I think their motive was the purest, they wanted to secure the cleanest space, by cleaning something out of criminals, who used it for their own profit," he said.

Vucic also stated that what happened in Savamala was "catastrophic and bad and will await the decision of relevant organs."

"I am neither the prosecution nor the police, they will speak about the details. I don't know when - in three, or in ten days, but the truth needs to be told to the people. I have not come here to explain anything to those who hate me and who are against Serbia's and Belgrade's modernization - but to ordinary people, who are worried about what took place during nighttime," Vucic continued.

The SNS leader also said it was "a lie that people were tied up there (in Savamala during the demolition)," and that "a much larger organization and its media governors speak to the case."

Asked by B92 where he obtained the information about the case, Vucic said it came from the police investigation, and that the prosecution would decide whether there were any elements of a crime.

"I am the prime minister, whether and what kind of crime occurred is not my job to say. There is the political responsibility, and I have taken a part of it," he said.

In his report about the case, the citizens' ombudsman pointed out to the inaction of the police. Vucic said that other organs, not the prosecution, deal with that.

"I don't know anything about the police. They certainly did not take part in carrying out the act, and whether there were any omissions, that's a question for other competent organs. If that is determined, everyone will be held responsible," said Vucic.

"I am pleased that I told the truth, and that we will continue with the Belgrade Waterfront project," said Vucic.

He repeated several times that those interested in the Savamala case "will never be interested in which masked persons arrested Slobodan Milosevic, lynched Milanovic, or killed around Belgrade wearing balaclavas."

Vucic opened his news conference by speaking about economic topics, to remark that those are "the most important, but not interesting to anyone." He added he was aware that the journalists who covered the event today came "because of a topic he was speaking about by the way, " the Savamala case.

About half an hour before the start of the news conference, Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti reported on its website that those responsible for the demolitions had been "found and identified."

Hours before this report was published, the Higher Public Prosecution told Beta agency there was "no new information about the Savamala case."

Belgrade City Manager Goran Vesic said an investigation was ongoing, and "appealed for patience."

Vucic on May 29 said that light would be shed on the case "in about ten days."

He also stated on that occasion that the nighttime tearing down of several buildings was done by "between nine and 11 masked persons, not 30 as had been said before."

Three protests gathering several thousand people have so far been organized in Belgrade, including one by opposition parties. The protesters demanded that persons who carried out the demolition during election night, April 24, be discovered, as well as resignations of city and police officials.

A new protest has been scheduled for June 11.


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