Twists and turns in police news as controversies heat up

Serbian headlines curiously centered on police activities of varying sorts mid-week (Nov. 10)—all of which in a fashion were somewhat symbolic of rough-and-tumble local and international politics.

In what may be well-seen at home, but which will likely be cynically viewed abroad, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic awarded medals to ethnic Serbian police officers living in Kosovo for refusing to hand out citations to ethnic Serbs that have refused to switch Serbian license plates to Kosovo license plates in the wake of controversial local legislation pushed by Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti.

Both officer Nenad Djuric and his commanding officer, Captain Aleksandar Filipovic, found themselves in hot water in Kosovo for refusing to issue citations, and hundreds of other officers also quit their jobs over the new rules. Both Djuric and Filipovic were given medals by Vucic who also promised them positions in Serbia. Vucic likewise promised all ethnic Serbs who have lost their jobs positions in the wake of what has been a mass walk out.

Meanwhile, ethnic-Serbs not only resigned from government jobs in Kosovo, but also refused to return with the specter of violence creeping over the region. Reportedly, at least one vehicle belonging to an ethnic Serb was burned in Kosovo, and this in the wake of barbs traded by both Kurti and Vucic with NATO KFOR troops standing by.

Vucic has highly criticized both Kurti and the EU, claiming that the latter well knows that Serb has held up its end of a Brussels agreement to guarantee peace in Kosovo. What Serbia has refused outright, however, has been the recognition of Kosovo independence, with the license plate issue now symbolic of just that.

Yet police news did not end there, with simultaneous turns in the world of organized crime and also potential espionage. With regard to the former, court testimony in the case of the B. and M. clan—which is also related to a long running gang war between the Montenegrin-based Skaljari and Kavac gangs–saw witness Srdjan L. testify that, according to the Montenegrin secret service, that a plot was under way at one time to murder Vucic.

The plot obviously never came off—although Serb police and a special anti-gang unit was later implicated in playing favorites with one gang over another—but in a back-handed compliment to Vucic the Serb president was seen as a major detriment to organized crime and the narcotics trade in general.

Yet in a far more bizarre twist on police news, a world-wide controversy involving underground Chinese “police stations” used to monitor and control Chinese nationals abroad has continued to gain steam, with accusations of more than 50 such stations in Europe and the United States and Canada. Yet while law enforcement and governments in Europe and in North America have at least in some cases immediately reacted, Serbia and Hungary have stood alone with Serbia failing to offer comment on the subject, according to Radio Free Europe, and Hungary flatly denying the existence of such sites altogether.

Critics have claimed that it is no coincidence that both Hungary and Serbia are, for example, closer to China than are other countries in the EU. And ironically the denials ring somewhat similar to Romanian and Polish denials during the outing of the CIA „rendition” program that saw alleged secret jails and interrogation facilities in those countries in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The alleged Chinese “police stations” have been used to reportedly intimidate Chinese nationals guilty of crimes in China ranging from corruption to simply being in opposition to the government. That said, the Hungarian and Serbian position also comes in stark contrast to, for example, that of 14 different governments, including those of Ireland and Holland, according to Radio Free Europe.  

Yet some Serb politicians are taking note, with Radio Free Europe stating that Serbian MP Pavel Grbovic saying he will “raise the issue” and that an investigation should be launched.

Photo credit: Leon E. Panetta, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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