Serbia Court Probes 3 Guards For Failed Escape

Published February 10, 2012 11:27AM (EST)

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — A court in Serbia is investigating three guards suspected of helping two dangerous inmates try to escape from a high-security prison — one of whom had been convicted of plotting to kill the nation's prime minister in 2003, an official said Friday.

The guards will remain in detention for 30 days during the investigation, said Ivana Ramic, a spokeswoman for the First Primary Court in Belgrade. If they are tried and convicted of playing a role in Tuesday's attempted escape by Sretko Kalinic and Zeljko Milovanovic, the guards could be jailed for eight years.

Both inmates used saws to cut the bars of their cell doors, then overpowered a guard and jumped out a window into the prison yard, where they were caught by special police. A prison camera video released by the authorities shows the two come out of their cells into the hall, putting on jackets and hurrying off.

Kalinic is serving a 30-year sentence for his role in the assassination of Serbia's reformist Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, who was gunned down in 2003 in front of the government headquarters by a group of paramilitaries and criminals. Kalinic did not pull the trigger, but he was a member of a notorious criminal gang that planned and carried out the killing.

Known in Serbia's underground as "the beast" for his brutality, Kalinic also was sentenced to 40 additional years in prison for other crimes, including executions and robberies.

Milovanovic was sentenced to 40 years in jail in neighboring Croatia for killing a prominent journalist there, Ivo Pukanic, and his associate in 2008. The inmate also is being tried in Serbia for other crimes.

Authorities initially detained and questioned five guards who were on duty during the attempted prison break. Police also are investigating whether the convicts had received any help from the outside.

By Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------