The ex-president of the former state union of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic, was released from custody on Tuesday after he signed a plea bargain with the special prosecution for organised crime and corruption and agreed to serve three years and eight months in prison.
Sixty-one-year-old Marovic had been accused of being the kingpin of a criminal group in his hometown of Budva.
After five months in detention, he reportedly agreed to reveal where 15 million euros that went missing from the Budva municipality ended up in exchange for a reduced jail term. It is not yet clear when he will start serving the sentence.
His lawyer Zdravko Begovic confirmed the plea bargain deal but said that the agreement with the prosecution excludes any admission that Marovic headed a criminal organisation.
Marovic spent almost five months in the Spuz prison near Podgorica and Begovic said that his health had deteriorated as a result.
“Five months in custody, despite the very correct attitude of the prison staff, in many ways worsened his physical and mental health, and after leaving the detention unit, Marovic will be immediately visit a hospital to try to alleviate these health problems,” Begovic told reporters.
Marovic has also served as Montenegro’s parliament speaker as well as president and prime minister of Serbia and Montenegro.
Most of his relatives have now been either arrested, convicted or accused of corruption and abuse of power in relation to crimes in the resort.
His son, Milos, his brother, Dragan, Budva’s former deputy mayor, and his aunt, Mirjana, spent months in custody following their arrests r.
Marovic was the first and last president of the state union of Serbia and Montenegro, a loose federation created from rump Yugoslavia in 2003. It was dissolved in 2006 when Montenegrins voted in a referendum in favour of independence.
Even in the early days of independence, anti-government media in Montenegro accused Marovic, his family and associates in Budva of a range of abuses.
For years, reports by the prominent local NGO MANS linked him to alleged abuses in the local government in Budva.
MANS claimed on Tuesday that the plea deals concluded with Marovic and his brother were a serious indication that the special prosecutor’s office was not able to effectively conduct investigations in cases of corruption and organised crime.
“The first serious investigation launched by the Special Prosecution concludes with the agreeing of a plea deal… reportedly because of the inefficiency of the entire process,” MANS researcher Dejan Milovac said.
Milovac said that the plea deal raised questions about the prosecution’s capabilities as well as its chronic lack of transparency, fostering suspicions about its independence.