Milosevic confidante jailed in Serbia for embezzlement

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Belgrade, Dec 28 (IANS/AKI) A Belgrade court has sentenced a confidante of former president of Yogoslavia and Serbia Slobodan Milosevic to eight years in prison for defrauding the country of 60 million euros.

Mihalj Kertes, who headed the country’s customs agency in the 1990’s during Milosevic’s rule, was accused of diverting customs revenue to state security, various state enterprises, Milosevic’s Socialist Party and of taking cash out of the country, instead of paying it to the state budget.

Kertes told the court he had done nothing wrong and was proud of his actions. At the time Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were under international sanctions and Kertes said it was the only way to help the country and allow key enterprises to survive.

According to the indictment, the state was defrauded of an equivalent of 60 million euros. But the court ruled it has been proven that Kertes moved 38 million German marks (19 million euros) to banks in Cyprus and unspecified amounts were spent on financing state institutions and enterprises.

Judge Nada Zec, explaining the verdict, said there was no proof that Kertes, Milosevic or two other members involved in the operations had taken the money for personal use.

Milosevic served as president of Serbia from 1989 to 1997 and later as president of Yogoslavia from 1997 to 2000.

After democratic changes in October 2000, Milosevic was indicted by the Hague-based UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on charges of genocide and war crimes. He died of heart attack in the Hague jail in March 2006, before he was sentenced.


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