Media says espionage suspect goes for plea bargain with prosecution

Cedo Colovic, a 57-year-old suspected by Serbia of spying for Croatia, has agreed to a plea bargain with the prosecution in return for a three-year custodial sentence, Radio-Television Serbia (RTS) reported on Monday quoting court sources.

The plea bargain was submitted to the Belgrade High Court on Monday and the presiding judge will make a decision, RTS has reported.

Tabloids in Belgrade on Monday morning speculated that Colovic might agree to a plea bargain with the prosecution and that he could possibly be sentenced to three years in prison if he were to admit to collaboration with Croatian intelligence services.

The Informer tabloid, close to the Serbian government and Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, reported that Colovic started spying for Croatia in order to avoid prosecution for alleged war crimes in the Republic of Serb Krajina, a self-proclaimed rebel Serb republic in Croatia in the 1990s.

After Colovic was arrested in Belgrade on Friday, the High Court on Sunday ruled that he should remain in custody for 30 days.

The court made the decision on the basis of a motion by the prosecution, which had previously questioned Colovic and requested that he be placed in custody as he presented a flight risk and could tamper with witnesses or repeat the crime he was suspected of.

Under the Serbian Penal Code, espionage charges carry a possible prison sentence of 3-15 years or a minimum 10 years if espionage proves to have had serious consequences for national security or the country's economic or military power.

Plea bargains are possible for a guilty verdict for crimes carrying sentences of up to 12 years.

Colovic holds both Croatian and Serbian citizenship and until 1990 he lived and worked in Croatia after which he took up residence in Serbia.

Belgrade media describe Colovic as a retired army officer of the Croatian Serb rebel army and claim that he was arrested because he was allegedly preparing to flee the country for Croatia.

The media further claim that over the past few months Colovic has been collecting data about Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) officers against whom Croatia could launch or has already launched proceedings on war crimes charges.

Last update: Mon, 05/09/2016 - 16:11

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