Serbia Sentences Miskovic to 5 Years in Prison Over Fraud

  • Prosecutors call for 12-year imprisonment for Miskovic
  • 3-year trial ends before EU, Serbia open rule of law chapters

Serbian judges sentenced Miroslav Miskovic, once the country’s richest man, to five years in prison over fraud, wrapping up a three-year trial as the country prepares to open European Union membership talks with rule of law chapters.

The 70-year-old entrepreneur, the owner of Delta Holding, was punished for encouraging tax evasion and will need to pay an 8 million-dinar ($73,556) fine, the Higher Court in Belgrade said in e-mailed statement on Monday.

Both Miskovic and his son were tried for embezzlement and tax evasion in connection with privatized road companies between 2005 and 2010 on suspicion of taking money and property valued at 2.87 billion dinars. He was acquitted on the embezzlement charges for lack of evidence, the court said. Prosecutors called for a 12-year imprisonment.

Miskovic was sentenced without evidence and expects to be acquitted in a final court ruling, Delta Holding said in an e-mailed statement. He will “continue to defend his constitutionally granted rights” including “the return of passport, possibility to do business abroad, release of more than 40 million euros worth of frozen assets and repayment of 12 million euro bail,” according to the statement.

Arrest, Elections

Miskovic and his son were arrested in Dec. 2012 and the trial started a year later, propelling the popularity of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, whose Progressive Party rose to power in May 2012 general elections on promises of better life and clampdown on organized crime and corruption. The Progressive’s won a snap ballot in 2014 with a 48 percent support after 24 percent in 2012.

Vucic, who wants to make over the economy and prepare Serbia for EU membership by 2020, has yet to form a cabinet after his party won April 24 snap ballot. He is facing growing criticism and protests over a lack of media freedom and a proposed 3 billion-euro ($3.4 billion) development with U.A.E. investors on the Sava river, known as the Belgrade Waterfront.

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