Entries in Serbia (15)


Vampire Threat Terrorizes Serbian Village

Obtained by ABC(BELGRADE, Serbia) -- For the people in a tiny Serbian village there is nothing sexy or romantic about a vampire.  In fact, they are terrified that one of the most feared vampires of the area has been roused back to life.

Rather than Twilight's Edward Cullen, the people of Zorazje fear that Sava Savanovic is lurking in their forested mountains of western Serbia. They believe that he is on the move because the home he occupied for so long, a former water mill, recently collapsed.  Savanovic is believed to be looking for a new home.

"People are very worried.  Everybody knows the legend of this vampire and the thought that he is now homeless and looking for somewhere else and possibly other victims is terrifying people," Miodrag Vujetic, local municipal assembly member, told ABC News.  "We are all frightened."

Vujetic said villagers "are all taking precautions by having holy crosses and icons placed above the entrance to the house, rubbing our hands with garlic, and having a hawthorn stake or thorn."

"I understand that people who live elsewhere in Serbia are laughing at our fears, but here most people have no doubt that vampires exist," he said.

According to legend, Savanovic would kill and drink the blood of the peasants who came to grind their grain at his watermill on the Rogacica River.  Tour groups from around the Balkans would come to see the mill.  But even tourism had its limits.

"We were welcoming tourists, but only during the day.  Nobody ever overnighted there," said Slobodan Jagodic, whose family owned the mill for over 60 years.

"We were too scared to repair it, not to disturb Sava Savanovic," said Jagodic.  "It's even worse now that it collapsed due to lack of repair."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Serbian Brides-to-Be Race for Cheaper Wedding

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BELGRADE, Serbia) -- A group of about 100 Serbian brides, decked out in wedding gowns and running shoes, gathered in Belgrade to race for the ultimate prize: help paying for the wedding.

The women ran in a 150-meter dash outside of the Serbian parliament, some even tying knots in their wedding gowns to make it easier to run.

Some women hoped to save on the ever-expensive wedding costs, while others said they participated just for the fun.

The winner, Sanja Cigoja, crossed the finish line in just 19 seconds, earning a much cheaper wedding than expected.

Those who didn’t win were just glad to be a part of the race.

“My groom was waiting for me at the finish line, but [since I didn't win], the wedding is off this year,” a competitor named Vesna joked. “I arrived to the finish line second to last. I was close, better luck next time. Taking part in this event is more important than winning.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


World's First Mammoth Graveyard Discovered in Serbia

Misko Korac(KOSTOLAC, Serbia) -- The excavation for coal at an open pit mine in Serbia and heavy torrential rain has yielded what is believed to be the world’s first collective graveyard of a herd of mammoths.

Heavy torrential rain earlier this week revealed the remains of what could be up to six mammoths, at an open pit mine in Kostolac, east of Belgrade not far from a site where two other mammoth remains were uncovered in recent years.

According to Miomir Korac, director of the Archeological Project Viminacium, which is named after the Roman provincial capital along the Danube River, the discovery came as a complete surprise. The archeologists were first alerted to one set of giant remains of a mammoth that was damaged by the chewing of the mining machinery. But then rain fell, rinsing away the yellow sand.

Korac’s team will now use infrared screening to get a better idea of what lies below the surface and check if there are additional mammoth bones. “We will use all tools possible including tooth picks to scrape sand from the teeth, which could answer the epoch of the mammoths,” said Nemanja Mrdjic, an archeologist of the team digging at the site.

Korac explained that the location covers an area of some 20,000 square meters on what could have been an island in the Pannonian Sea, which today is the most fertile land of Hungary, northern Serbia and Croatia.

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The first prehistoric skeleton was found at this site in 2009. The bones belonged to a female mammoth that has been named Vika. Another mammoth skeleton, from a much later period, was discovered at a factory in Serbia in 1996 and was named Kika.

These particular creatures lived from 100,000 years ago to as long as one million years ago, Serbian and international scientist estimated after their excavation.

“This is a rare global treat because no such place exists elsewhere in the world,” said Korac by phone from Paris, where he is consulting on the discovery.  He added that international paleozoologists, paleontologists and archaeologists are likely to participate in the work to learn about life on earth millions of years ago.

“It’s the luck of science,” said Mrdjic. “The location of the fossil, mostly held in loose sand, that is not very cemented is also a stroke of luck.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Serbia Frozen: Arctic Blast Blamed for Six Deaths

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(BELGRADE, Serbia) -- An arctic freeze has been blamed for six deaths in Serbia, while record snow has left 11,500 people trapped in about 6,500 households in remote villages. Many schools are closed, with hospitals facing an influx of hypothermia, orthopedic and cardiac cases.

The weather also caused traffic accidents, and raised fears of powergrid failures, burst water mains and skyrocketing home fuel and electricity bills. It has shut down normal life throughout the region.

“People are not ready for this kind of weather,” a doctor said in Bajina Basta, southwest Serbia, adding that hospitals were advising people not to go outdoors.

The temperature dropped in the southern region of Sjenica to minus-4 degrees, with fresh snowfall and continued low temperatures forecast for the weekend. “We have not experienced such harsh conditions since 1947,” Deputy Mayor Hazbo Mujovic said. “But back then, people were used to old-fashioned snowy and cold winters. They would prepare for it.”

Major highways remained open, but more than 1,800 miles of secondary roads are impassable. Many villages are cut off because of 16- to 19-foot-high snow drifts.

Dozens of homes and thousands of people in the town of Svrljig were without heat, electricity and running water overnight after a heavy snow fall, according to a local report. Eighteen other municipalities have also declared a state of emergency.

The meteorological office says temperatures in the latest freeze have been considerably lower than usual for this time of year. Forecasters predicted more bitter cold into next week.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


UN's Last Wanted War Crimes Fugitive Arrested in Serbia

ALEKSA STANKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images(BELGRADE, Serbia) -- Goran Hadzic, the last remaining fugitive wanted by the United Nations' International Criminal Court for war crimes, was arrested in Serbia Wednesday, a high-ranking official told ABC News.

According to the official, Hadzic was nabbed near the mountain Fruska Gora.

Hadzic, the former leader of the Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK), is facing 14 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for the murder of Croat civilians and the deportation of Croats and other non-Serbs by Serbian troops in Croatia during the 1991-1995 war.

He was indicted by the war crimes court in 2004.

Hadzic's arrest comes less than two months after Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military commander who faces genocide and war crimes charges, was captured in Serbia.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Accused Bosnian War Criminal Mladic Tossed Out of Court

Serge Ligtenberg/Getty Images(THE HAGUE, Netherlands) -- Any hope that the trial of former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic would be free of histrionics was dashed Monday when a judge tossed the defendant out of court in The Hague, Netherlands for being disruptive.

Mladic, accused of war crimes during the 1992-95 Bosnian War, shouted over Judge Alphons Orie as he tried to enter not guilty pleas on the defendant's behalf.

Shouting "I’m not going to listen to this," Mladic argued that he would not plead to any charges without the lawyer of his choice.  Mladic also angered the judge by trying to keep his military-style cap on after being told to take it off.

Judge Orie eventually had enough of the defendant's defiance and ordered him removed from the courtroom, whereupon he entered the not guilty pleas on Mladic's behalf.

Mladic faces numerous counts of genocide and other atrocities, including charges he supervised the 1995 massacre that killed 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ratko Mladic Appears Before Tribunal; Declines to Enter Plea

Serge Ligtenberg/Getty Images(THE HAGUE, Netherlands) -- Former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic appeared before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague Friday, where prosecutors outlined the 11-count indictment against him for genocide and war crimes.

After the charges were read to him, Mladic, speaking through a translator, said he was a "gravely ill man" and needed more time understand them.  He refused to enter a plea to the charges, which he called "monstrous" and "obnoxious."

"I was just defending my country," Mladic said.

Mladic was indicted by the United Nations tribunal for war crimes that include the 1992 campaign of ethnic cleansing in eastern Bosnia, the establishment of concentration camps in northwest Bosnia, the three-year siege of Sarajevo, the taking of U.N. hostages in 1995 during NATO airstrikes, and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

He now has 30 days to review the charges and enter a plea.  If he does not, the tribunal's judges will enter not guilty pleas for him.

The next hearing is scheduled for July 4.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Former Serbian Paramilitary Police Pleads Guilty of Immigration Crime

Greg Mathieson / TIME and Life Images(ATLANTA) -- A Lawrenceville, Ga., man who served in the Serbian Police during the 1992-95 Bosnian War pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to lying to federal immigration officials about his background.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit.

Zeljko Zekic, 48, filled out his immigration paperwork saying he was unemployed and living in the Serbian Republic during the war, when in fact he was living in a Serbian-controlled town inside Bosnia and was an active-duty member of the Serbian paramilitary police during the period of armed conflict.

"ICE will not turn a blind eye to perpetrators of crimes against humanity who seek safe haven in the United States," said Brock Nicholson, special agent in charge of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta.

In 2002, in Belgrade, Serbia, Zekic and his family applied for refugee access to the United States. On a biographical form that Zekic understood would become part of his family's refugee application, he said he was unemployed and living in the Serbian Republic during the war. His application was approved and his family moved to the United States.

Research by ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit revealed that Zekic had lied about his job and his residence during the Bosnian War.

They discovered that Zekic was a master sergeant with a police force based in a key Serbian-controlled town inside Bosnia, inside the conflict zone. He lived and worked in this town during the entire period of the armed conflict, to include the time of the massacre of more than 8,000 Bosnian men and boys in Srebrenica.

Zekic will be sentenced Aug. 16. The crime to which he pled carries a maximum penalty of five years in federal custody and/or a fine of up to $250,000. Zekic is already in removal proceedings before an immigration court.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ratko Mladic's Extradition Appeal Rejected

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images(BELGRADE, Serbia) -- Ratko Mladic's appeal to be transferred to a United Nations court, where he faces genocide and war crimes charges, was rejected by Serbian judges on Tuesday.

Serbia's deputy war crimes prosecutor, Bruno Vekaric, told ABC News that Mladic's extradition is expected to come shortly.

Upon arriving at The Hague, Mladic will be taken to a holding cell located on a different floor from where other war crimes suspects awaiting trial are being held, Nerma Jelacic, a spokeswoman for the war crimes tribunal, told ABC News.  He will be given his indictment in Serbian and a list of possible defense lawyers.

The former Bosnian Serb military commander will then undergo a standard medical checkup, at which time the court will issue an official health bulletin and "provide Mladic with adequate care if needed," Jelacic said.

Within 24 to 48 hours of his arrival, Mladic will appear before the court to enter his plea before the three-member panel of judges.

The president of the tribunal, Mehmed Guney, said "the trial could last between a year-and-a-half and two years."

Mladic was indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague for war crimes that include the 1992 campaign of ethnic cleansing in eastern Bosnia, the establishment of concentration camps in northwest Bosnia, the three-year siege of Sarajevo; the taking of U.N. hostages in 1995 during NATO airstrikes, and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Facing Genocide, War Crimes Charges, Ratko Mladic Appeals U.N. Court Transfer 

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images(BELGRADE, Serbia) -- Bosnian Serb ex-military commander Ratko Mladic on Monday appealed his transfer to a United Nations court, where he faces genocide and war crimes charges, after thousands rallied in Belgrade against his arrest.

His lawyer said he sent the appeal -- citing Mladic's health problems -- by registered delivery at 5:30 p.m. in an effort to delay the captured general's departure from Belgrade by a day. The court now needs to wait a day for the appeal to arrive, after which, under Serbian court procedures, it has three days to rule on it.

However, if the appeal is dismissed, Mladic could be on a plane as early as Tuesday night to the Netherlands and the U.N. prison for war criminals from the former Yugoslavia, which also houses Radovan Karadzic, his former commander-in-chief.

In 2008, lawyers acting for Karadzic, Mladic's co-accused, attempted a similar ploy after he was arrested. But the appeal was lost in the mail and Karadzic was extradited five days later.

"I believe the trial will not go ahead, because I do not believe Mladic will see the start of that process in front of the Hague Tribunal," Mladic's lawyer, Milos Saljic, said. "His health is in an alarming state. It is necessary that he is examined by cardiologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedists and gastroenterologists."

Bruno Vekaric, the deputy war crimes prosecutor in Serbia, believes the appeal is merely tactical, because local doctors have concluded that Mladic is well enough to withstand a transfer for trial. "The Hague has never dropped an indictment against anyone on account of health problems," Nerma Jelacic, a Hague Tribunal spokeswoman, told ABC News. "Doctors will examine him as soon as he is transferred to the Hague."

The War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague has indicted Mladic for war crimes that range from the 1992 campaign of ethnic cleansing in eastern Bosnia, the establishment of concentration camps in the northwest of Bosnia, a three-year siege of Sarajevo to the taking of U.N. hostages in 1995 during NATO air strikes to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Prosecutors in the Hague said they are currently considering whether to merge the trials of Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. The two men face the same indictment, but Karadzic's trial began in October 2009.

Mladic was captured last week in a village north of Belgrade, some 16 years after the indictment was issued.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio