Serbia Continues Purge of Police Officials

President Tomislav Nikolic on Friday called for changes in the police, saying they were needed to support the fight against crime in the country.

"I call on the government to appoint honest crime fighters and ensure that those responsible are doing the job they are entrusted with," Nikolic said.

Milos Vasic, an expert for organised crime and columnist, said that the call from the President - who comes from the ranks of the ruling Progressive Party - to clean up the the police was "politically motivated” and had little to do with appointing more honest officers.

"This is an attempt by officials to take control of the most important police unit – the criminal unit," Vasic told BIRN.

Nikolic spoke after the government set up a working group to investigate claims that Rodoljub Milovic, head of police criminal department, had ties to criminal circles.

Anong other things, he is accused of having ties top the notorious so-called Zemun criminal gang, which flourished in the 1990s, several members of which were jailed in connection with the murder of Prime Minister Zoran Djindic in 2003.

The accusations are deeply controversial, however, as they come from Darko Saric, an alleged drug lord currently on trial for trafficking cocaine.

In response to the accusations, police chief Milovic took a lie detector test voluntarily, the result of which on Thursday indicated that he was telling the truth.

Vuk Cvijic, a journalist specialising in police and crime, questioned the legality of probe based on claims coming from an alleged drugs baron.

He added that the probe also appeared to be being conducted through tabloid media close to the ruling...

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