Arrested protester released from custody in Serbia; some demonstrators fined

NEWS 29.11.2021 12:05
Beta/Amir Hamzagić

Dragan Milovanovic, aka Crni, from Serbia's western town of Sabac, who stopped an excavator from driving through a mass of demonstrators on Saturday, was released on Monday pending trial.

Serbia’s environmentalists, opposition activists and citizens blocked the main roads for an hour in a protest against two controversial laws passed by the Parliament.

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During several protests, clashes between men in hoodies, holding sticks and demonstrators occurred, with the police reacting only against the protesters.

Later on Monday, six people from the western town of Valjevo were fined € 42 for taking part in Saturday’s protest over the two laws they saw as potentially damaging health and environment, the local Kolubarske website reported.

All six were taken to give statements.

The website said it was not clear what was criteria the authorities used in choosing those three women and three men and that more protestors were delivered misdemeanour warrants.

Milovanovic, who operates an excavator himself and has said he knew what damage could have been done if the machine drove into the crowd, is charged with inflicting severe bodily injuries and faces jail time of up to five years.

Dragan Milovanović Crni

After the release, he told N1 he regretted what he did but added he only tried to prevent the damage and injuries that the machine could have done. “It shouldn’t have happened; I did not want to hurt anyone but to stop the machine. I feel sorry for the man (he punched). Honestly, I did not intend to hurt him.”

 Defence attorneys argued that Milovanovic’s group had previously been attacked and that he was in a state of irritability, which could significantly reduce his sentence.

Milovanovic has no criminal record and has not been prosecuted so far.

He was remanded in custody for 48 hours on Sunday.

The video from the incident showed the group in which Milovanovic was facing the excavator, followed by a group of men with sticks and hammers.

The people at the rally tried to stop the excavator, but the driver decided to continue driving, which caused demonstrators’ revolt.

A man ‘defending’ the excavator kicked the first protester who tried to climb on it to stop the driver. Milovanovic then climbed despite „the guardian“ resistance and punched him several times.

As previously reported, Nebojsa Stojicevic Jarin, a ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) member from Sabac, drove the excavator.

SNS’ supporters announced their rally outside the Sabac court later on Monday.

Marinika Tepic, a deputy leader of the opposition Party of Justice and Freedom (SSP), showed on Nova TV on Sunday night pictures of what she said were at least eight official Skoda-made cars behind the excavator. The pictures showed men in hoodies entering the cars and leaving the site.

Until Monday, it remained unknown whether the excavator driver and other attackers were arrested.

SNS president and the head of state Aleksandar Vucic told a pro-regime TV channel on Sunday night that the driver had the right to pass and that those who stopped him violated the Constitution.



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