One more headache for Serbia

The story is explained here.  Short version: 21 year old Miladin Kovacevic, recruited by Binghampton University in western New York state is alleged to have beaten a fellow student to a coma, along with 2 accomplices.  His passport was seized when he was bailed but the Serbian consulate in Manhattan issued him an emergency passport which allowed him to return home, from where the Serbian government says that he can’t be extradited.  However the government seems to acknowledge malpractice in the consulate.  There’s never a good time for a case like this but to have it hanging over the country’s seeming rapprochement with western countries is especially awkward.

5 thoughts on “One more headache for Serbia

  1. The negative PR is exacerbated by the fact that not only have the NY papers and sites covering this been given plenty of perhaps understandable but unhinged sounding quotes from the perpetrator’s family and friends stating that he is innocent and it is a vast conspiracy, but every comment box available covering the story since it broke has included less understandable foaming at the mouth Serbian nationalists asserting systemic anti-Serb discrimination, making clumsy sectarian references (because the victim was Jewish and someone charged with a lesser offense a muslim, it must prove anti-Serb bias) and generally capping things off by insulting the entire American population as brainwashed by the media, etc.

    In reality, the level of media coverage is easily explained by the severity of injury and the dramatic flight (plus the visuals of an archetypical thug and nerdish honor student victim). And if there is a rush to judgement here, its more likely to do with generic anti-Jock stereotypes and victim-sympathy than anti-Serbian bias. NATO, Kosovo, orthodoxy, the Ottomans and Jansovenec really don’t come into it.

    Unity occasionally makes the Serbs look like idiots.

  2. American readers may remember the Elian Gonzalez flap of a few years ago. This is worse! Gonzalez wasn’t a US citizen and wasn’t facing prosecution.

    Girondist, you’re so right about the comment boxes. Part of the background: for the last few years, the Kostunica government systematically demonized the United States as the great orchestrator of the anti-Serb conspiracy. If this had happened in Belgium, there wouldn’t be the same resonance.

    Unfortunately, this is unlikely to resolve well. Even the current Serbian government is unlikely to extradite; it’s legally difficult (don’t ask) and would inflame public opinion at a time when they already have their hands full. Meanwhile, there’s not much the US can actually do. Most of the possible solutions (shutting down student visas for Serbs) are useless and would really do more harm than good.

    So, the most likely outcome looks to be “nothing happens” — Kovacevic goes about his life, and his victim goes about what’s left of it.

    Doug M.

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