Rasim Ljajic, Serbia’s Trade Minister, said on Tuesday he reported himself to the Organised Crime Prosecutor’s Office following accusations by an ultra-nationalist leader he was a drug cartel chief, the FoNet news agency reported.
Speaking to the Belgrade-based Blic daily, Ljajic, the longest-serving official in Serbia’s government, said he decided to do that because he had enough of “putting up with slanders.”
Vojislav Seselj, a convicted war criminal and a deputy of the ultranationalist Radical Party to Serbia’s Parliament, accused Ljajic, an ally of Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic, of being the boss of one of the largest drug cartes.
Seselj repeated the accusation several times, but the issue blew out of proportion when he named Ljaic “the heroin king of Novi Pazar” (the central town of Serbia’s southern Sandzak region, mostly populated by the Bosniaks.)
“Prosecutors told me that no one has ever reported themselves, but I’m aware I would get nowhere with a private lawsuit,” Ljajic, himself a Bosniak, said, adding “this is politics and I have to fight for my honour.”
Blic reported that it had seen Ljajic’s report saying Seselj charged in October that the police had “all information” about the minister’s involvement in the drug business, “but that no one does anything.”
Ljajic has earlier said he would not participate in the next Serbia’s cabinet whenever it’s formed.
There was no official reaction on the accustaion made by Seselj, former Vucic's political mentor, but Ljajic said he discussed it with Vucic, adding he “cannot reveal the details, except that the talks were correct.”
Ljajic assumed the first office in 2000 after the opposition had ousted late strongman Slobodan Milosevic.