A Belgrade police shift commander on Tuesday signed a plea bargain agreement with prosecutors over the tearing down of houses in central Belgrade two years ago.
Police officer Goran Stamenkovic pleaded guilty to failing to react to reports that buildings were being torn down and people being held prisoner in the Savamala quarter along the Sava river in downtown Belgrade during the night of April 24-25, 2016. Stamenkovic was in command of the police shift on that night.
The Higher Public Prosecution in Belgrade issued a statement saying a plea bargain agreement had been signed giving him a suspended sentence. Stamenkovic is the only person named in the case by the prosecution. The case has been passed on to the Higher Court in Belgrade which will take the final decision on the agreement.
Several old buildings were torn down in Hercegovacka street in the Savamala district, allegedly to make way for the construction of the Belgrade Waterfront project which the Serbian authorities have been backing. A number of local people were detained by men in face masks and the police and the city communal police refused to follow up on calls from the public. Following a public outcry, then Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said he was aware of who was behind the operation but refused to name anyone saying it was up to the competent authorities to deal with the case. Early parliamentary elections were held on April 24, 2016.
A report on the incident by then Ombudsman Sasa Jankovic said that the police were ordered not to react by someone from the “top ranks” while city Communal Police chief Nikola Ristic told the Ombudsman that his officers received not calls which later proved to be untrue.