Montenegro Arrests Ex-President Marovic for Corruption

The former president of Serbia and Montenegro Svetozar Marovic was arrested on Thursday in connection to a long-running corruption case concerning his hometown of Budva.


The Special Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime in Montenegro ordered the arrest of the former president of the state union of Serbia and Montenegro Svetozar Marovic on Thursday. Marovic, who chairs the political council of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, was arrested in connection to corruption cases centred on the resort of Budva.

The prosecution ordered 72 hours of detention for Marovic “on the reasonable suspicion that he committed a felony.” Marovic has pleaded not guilty, his lawyer, Zdravko Begovic, told reporters after the hearing.

Marovic, formerly the speaker of the Montenegrin parliament, is the highest ranking Montenegrin official to be arrested so far in connection with corruption claims. Prosecutors have for years been investigating corruption claims about Marovic’s hometown of Budva, on suspicion that the local budget has been damaged to the tune of 120 million euros. The special prosecutor for organize crime, Milivoje Katnic, hinted earlier at the possibility of Marovic’s arrest, saying that the prosecution already “identified the head of an organized crime group in Budva.  “The prosecution believes it has collected enough evidence to take these actions and to expand the investigation to the organizer of these criminal groups,” Katnic said in November.
All the other key actors in the “Budva affair” were arrested over the last two months, and pleaded guilty to multi-million euro misuses.

On November 30, the state prosecutor charged ex-mayor of Budva Lazar Radjenovic and several other officials from Budva with abuse of office. Marovic’s son Milos, his brother Dragan Marovic and aunt Mirjana Marovic are already in custody. The process is running against his daughter Milena Marovic- Bogdanovic and his son mother-in-law, Dragica Popovic.

The new charges have put the spotlight back on the issue of corruption in Montenegro in general and within the ruling DPS, led by Prime Minister Djukanovic. While some say the arrests and trials show that Montenegro is finally dealing with high-level corruption, others believe that all that is happening is a settling of scores within the ruling party.
The European Union has made a more effective fight against organized crime and corruption one of Montenegro’s seven key priorities if it wants to advance towards membership. It has been frequently urged to prosecute more high-profile corruption cases.

Balkan Insight 

17 December 2015