The Serbian security service said it had thwarted mafia-style plans to bring down a government plane with Prime Minister Ivica Dacic on board.
The Serbian Police Directorate has informed Ivica Dacic, the Prime and Interior Minister, that “heads of certain criminal gangs were intending to cause a failure on a government plane”.
The directorate said that this information came from the security information Agency, the BIA.
The alleged sabotage was to take place “with the help of people who have access to the aircraft during the travels of the President, Prime Minister, and First Deputy Prime Minister”.
Dacic was in Ireland at the time, hoping to secure a date from EU leaders for a start to EU accession talks in June. Serbia obtained EU candidate status in March 2012.
After talking with the plane crew, Dacic “decided to fly back to Belgrade on Thursday evening in the same plane”, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
The Prime Minister has been under serious political pressure since it was revealed on February 1 that he had met several times with Rodoljub Radulovic, a member of a Darko Saric’s drug clan, in 2008 and 2009.
Saric, of Montenegrin origin but holding Serbian citizenship, is the alleged leader of an organised criminal group accused of smuggling cocaine from Latin America to Europe.
Prosecutors filed charges against Saric and his associates in April 2010 and issued a warrant for his arrest. Both Saric and Radulovic remain at large.
Dacic addressed reporters late on Thursday on the alleged threat to his person after returning from Ireland.
He did not wish to say which criminal structures were suspected of involvement in the case, but noted that “criminal groups cannot influence the work of the government.
“I have faith that our state organs are capable of undertaking their state functions, one of which is to protect top state officials,” he said.
About the author: Balkan Insight
The Balkan Insight (forner the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes.
BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention.
Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.