Crack Serbian police arrested
Published by BBC News – Monday 21 April, 2003
Copyright: BBC News
Serbian police have reportedly arrested 15 members of an elite unit suspected of involvement in the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic two weeks ago.
The detainees are all members of the 300-strong Unit for Special Operations (JSO), which was disbanded on Wednesday on the orders of the Serbian Government, the Associated Press news agency reported.
JSO commander Dusan Maricic was among those arrested – his deputy Zvezdan Jovanovic was detained earlier in the week on suspicion of carrying out the assassination.
The arrests come amid reports that the crackdown on organised crime has led to soaring prices for illegal drugs and increased criminal activity by addicts.
The JSO, better known as the “Red Berets”, is said to have close links to the former Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic.
The Serbian authorities have accused the unit’s former commander, Milorad Lukovic, of masterminding the killing.
More than 1,000 people have been arrested in the crackdown, which began after Mr Djindjic was shot outside government buildings in Belgrade on 12 March.
Meanwhile, Mr Djindjic’s assassination has had unexpected consequences for Serbia’s drug users, Reuters news agency reported.
The government crackdown which followed the late prime minister’s murder has targeted organised crime, sending drug prices soaring on the streets of Belgrade.
Police have stepped up security at pharmacies to prevent raids by addicts looking to steal tranquillisers.
The government in turn has warned the public that drug users may turn to violence as they try to sustain their habit.
Hospitals and clinics have reported an increase in the number of drug users seeking help.
The country’s only clinic specialising in drug addiction said that 900 people a week have been coming through its doors since Mr Djindjic’s killing, an increase of almost 80%.