The ex-president of the former State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic, will appear in court on August 1 after he signed a plea bargain with the special prosecution for organised crime and corruption and agreed to a prison sentence.

 

Svetozar Marovic

 

Marovic, aged 61, was accused of being the kingpin of a criminal group in his hometown, the coastal resort of Budva.

 

Marovic was released from custody on May 17 after he signed two plea agreements. The court is now expected to decide on Marovic’s prison term and on the size of the fine he should pay.

 

According to one agreement, which the court will evaluate, Marovic would serve 30 months in prison and pay 50,000 euros to charity.

 

Under other deal with the prosecution, Marovic has agreed to an additional sentence of 20 months, to “compensate the state budget” for a fine of 1.1 million euros, and pay another 50,000 euros to charity.

 

After five months in detention, Marovic 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 clear when he will start serving the sentence.

 

His lawyers confirmed the plea bargain deal in May but said the agreement with the prosecution excludes an admission that Marovic headed a criminal organisation.

 

Begovic said the almost five months that Marovic spent in the Spuz prison near Podgorica had damaged his health.

 

Marovic served as speaker of Montenegro’s parliament as well as president and prime minister of Serbia and Montenegro.

 

He was arrested on December 16 last year in connection with a long-running corruption case focusing on Budva.

 

Many of his relatives have now been either arrested, convicted or accused of corruption and abuse of power in relation to crimes in the resort town.

 

His son, Milos, his brother, Dragan, Budva’s former deputy mayor, and his aunt, Mirjana, all spent months in custody following their arrests.

 

Marovic was the first and last president of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, a loose federation created from the 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, some media outlets in Montenegro accused Marovic, his family and associates in Budva of a range of abuses.

 

For years, reports by MANS, a prominent local NGO, linked him to alleged abuses in the local government in Budva.

 

MANS claimed the plea deals concluded with Marovic and his brother were an indication that the special prosecutor’s office was not able to effectively conduct investigations in cases of corruption and organised crime.

 

The NGO said that the plea deal raised questions about the prosecution’s capabilities as well as about transparency, fuelling suspicions about its independence.