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Serbian prosecutor calls for regional arrest warrant PDF Print

Author: Anna-Karin Friis 10 February 2011

Miljko Radislavjevic, Serbian prosecutor for organized crime, wants increased international support for efforts to curb organized crime. Serbia is currently negotiating extradition agreements with several countries and agreements with Croatia and Montenegro are in force."In a lead to enhance international cooperation Serbia will launch an  initiative for a regional arrest warrant"  Radislavjevic said at the European Parliament socialist group's conference on  organized crime in Brussels last Wednesday 9 February.  "Organized criminal groups are active in several countries. That is a logical consequence of  globalization and a phenomenon that cannot be fought in isolation", Serbia's  chief prosecutor for organized crime explained in Brussels.  Relating Serbia's past, Radislavjevic said organized crime at one point became so influential that  they undermined the foundations of the state. The proceeds of drug-trafficking  were invested in Serbia.  "The conditions for grey economy were excellent.  Through the direct involvement with state institutions the criminal networks  supplied the Serbian market with commodities. Therefore the criminal groups  were largely seen as benefactors although they were acting for their own financial  gain."

Mafias in plural

The European Parliamen's socialist group urged for analysis of the scope and the width of the problem of organized crime across Europe. The Lisbon treaty  enables the enactment of new instruments, such as the controversial proposal of  a European prosecutor. "We have to realize that we now have mafias in plural",  Rita Borselino, Italian Member of the European Parliament, said. "Using the term  mafias in plural is a sign of awareness of the problem to be tackled. Now internal  security policy focuses on terrorism, which does not make sense, as other  problems are then overlooked." Italian authorities estimate the value of the  operations of organized criminal groups to 135 billion euro a year. The loss for  governments in terms of tax evasion and moneylaundering is set at an approximate hundred billion euro a year.

The limitless internet

Organized crime does not know boundaries. Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol,  warned of the internet having become the breeding ground for fraud worth  billions of euro every year. The economic downturn created new opportunities for organized crime, which has developed  in innovative new ways. "The situation is  worsened by unemployment and low salaries", Wainwright cautioned.  "People  are so-to-say sucked into schemes such as drug-trafficking and it affects an  increasing number of sectors and commodities. "Europol discerns new trends of  mafia groups' activity. Particularly upsetting is the systematic exploitation of  children for petty crimes and prostitution. Joint investigation teams lead by  Europol recently revealed a scheme involving more than a thousand Roma children in aggressive begging  and petty stealing. That was part of a sophisticated crime network operating across Europe.

Among new security threats emerging, Europol identifies the trafficking in  endangered species, which attracts little police attention but where  profits are  high.  "In the future we need to focus on cybercrime and on identifying and  targeting mafia figures", Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol, said in Brussels  last Wednesday.  "The public has to be mobilized against organized crime and terrorism."

Blurred boundaries

The European parliament socialist group leader  Martin Schulz  cautioned that  global organized crime has blurred the boundaries between illegal and legal  economic activity and destabilizes the economic structures in society. "The rule  of law is penetrated by lawlessness and you cannot distinguish between those  two", warned Schulz. "It is easy to have unlimited borderless illegal economy, as  law enforcement is not keeping up with resources of organized crime."
Other calls for action included the proposal to trace lost funds from money- laundering that now go largely undiscovered. Speakers were of the view that  money has to be traceable and movements of funds justified at source. The  conference touched upon the tightening of reporting standards for European  public procurement in order to prevent corruption. Finance intelligence  cooperation would be an essential measure. Italian prosecutors warned that the  mafia has a tendency to blend in well with society when integrating abroad.
"Mafia has good camouflage. Their members go for corruption rather than terror  and violence", said Piero Grasso of the National Antimafia Prosecution in Italy

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