MP Omerovic denies he was caught shoplifting in Germany
Few people know the conclusions of a recent debate in Brussels on Serbia's EU accession and security policy, but everyone knows what happened to Meho Omerovic.Source: B92, Prva TV
According to media reports, Omerovic, who was a member of a Serbian delegation headed to Brussels for the meeting, was last week allegedly caught shoplifting in a duty-free shop at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany.
But Omerovic, a member of the Serbian National Assembly from the SDPS party and a member of the Assembly Committee on Control of Security Services, denies this, and on Monday morning spoke for Prva TV to explain his side of the story, describing the event as "a traumatic experience."
Omerovic said he was starting to have digestive problems soon after departing Belgrade, "and for this reason had to use the toilet on the plane" - something the parliamentarian said the colleagues traveling with him, "plus some associates and some OSCE people" have "publicly confirmed."
Once in Frankfurt - where the delegation was to catch a connecting flight to Brussels - Omerovic spotted a 30 percent discount on perfumes in "one of the small duty-free shops that don't even have shopping baskets."
He then described the sequence of events:
"I take a bottle of perfume in my hand, and a set, three L'Oreal lipsticks. At that moment - I have a backpack on my right shoulder - I feel this strong, horrific, and unbearable pain in my stomach, as if somebody stabbed a knife in it. I cramp and drop my backpack and suddenly feel that my intestines are starting to empty. I panic and lose my head. I look for the arrows pointing to a toilet. I run out that space (the store) and into a toilet. After spending 15 minutes in the toilet I realize that the bottle of perfume is in my hand."
He said he then "headed back to the duty free shop, but saw a man (store security) at the door who asked him to approach."
Omerovic said he explained that he "had a medical problem," but the guard "took the backpack and started rummaging through it, thinking I had who knows what in there - and then took me to the cash register."
Omerovic was now asked to show his passport and his boarding pass.
"When he saw my passport he asked if it was diplomatic, I said yes. He told me to wait, and called someone on the phone. 20 minutes later the police arrived," Omerovic added.
Two police officers then "looked at the pass and the passport, photographed both, and told me I could go."
When the interviewer remarked that media reports said he had in fact been handcuffed and arrested, that the Serbian Foreign Ministry had to intervene on his behalf, and that he was only released after invoking his diplomatic immunity - Omerovic said none of this was true, and explained that he did not end up buying the cosmetic products.
Omerovic added that he missed his plane, and once in Brussels, told his colleagues about the incident - but would not say whether he thought one of them went to the press with the story.
"Somebody is trying to make me look like a thief. I will turn 60 next year (...) and this is happening at a time when I'm a member of a delegation that deals with security issues," he said.
As for those calling for the Assembly to strip him of his immunity as an MP and remove him from all posts he holds, Omerovic said they had the right to ask for this - and read from the German police report which he said stated he had been "held, identified with his (diplomatic) passport"; that he "stated this was the only travel document he had on his person," while "the chief ordered that Omerovic be released after taking his personal data," and that "a criminal complaint has not been filed against him; the decision was in his favor."