Skip to comments.Serbs shrug off Binghamton bar attack, and still rant at U.S. for '99 bombing
Posted on 07/06/2008 1:08:11 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
BELGRADE - They sit like open sores at the heart of this turbulent eastern European nation.
Long before international fugitive Miladin Kovacevic revived tensions between the U.S. and Serbia, NATO bombs reduced a row of once formidable government buildings here to hulking shells.
The ravaged red-brick and concrete buildings are still standing nearly 10 years after the American-led aerial assault. They represent a wound that, many Serbians say, still runs deep.
"Our people look at America like it's an enemy," said Niko Percovic, 30, a reporter based in the northern city of Novi Sad.
That is one of the reasons, Percovic said, the tale of the monstrous Serb athlete who pummeled Brooklyn college student Bryan Steinhauer and then fled the country received almost no attention here for weeks.
"Nobody wants to say anything about Kovacevic or write anything about him in the newspapers," Percovic added.
But Kovacevic's story isn't going away anytime soon. The U.S. and Serbia are locked in a diplomatic battle over how to get Kovacevic back to upstate New York to face American justice.
A solution could take months - if one comes at all.
International attention focused on Serbia after Kovacevic, a 6-foot-9, 280-pound jock, fled there following a May 4 bar brawl that left fellow Binghamton University student Bryan Steinhauer, 22, in a coma.
The hulking Kovacevic, 20, escaped the U.S. on June 9 with the help of a consulate member, prompting Sen. Chuck Schumer to blast the Serbian government and demand the fugitive be returned. The U.S. ambassador to Serbia this week echoed Schumer's demand.
A month after Kovacevic fled, he remains a free man.
A Serbian prosecutor said the U.S. has still not filed the formal documentation necessary to spur local authorities to act. Even then, Serbian officials have suggested that their law may forbid them from extraditing Kovacevic.
American officials have conceded their best hope is that Kovacevic is persuaded to surrender voluntarily.
One question looms large - why would he?
Kovacevic has been spotted strolling around in a T-shirt and gym shorts near his hometown of Kula, a tiny city in the north with a sinister history.
Located 100 miles from Belgrade, Kula is known as the former base of an elite military unit, the Red Berets, which reportedly carried out political assassinations at the behest of the notorious Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic.
Residents there continue to view the U.S. with skepticism. Kovacevic's family friends said he was the victim of a conspiracy.
"The most he is guilty of is that he is big," one friend said.
Around Kula's three-block downtown, residents said they were shocked - and baffled - that one of their own had become a headline-grabbing fugitive.
"Was the [victim] somebody famous?" asked a man at an outdoor fast-food shop in between bites of a pljeskavica, a Serbian hamburger made with pork, lamb and beef. "I heard it was just a fight."
Belgrade, Serbia's bustling capital city, pulsates with life in the summer months.
Outdoor cafes remain packed deep into the night with people sipping iced coffees and wine. Hordes of stunning young women stroll past boutique shops wearing eye-catching outfits. Weekend nights don't end until the sun rises.
Questions about the Kovacevic case were often met here with looks of confusion.
"I don't know about it," said a 42-year-old sunglass vendor who declined to give his name. "We have our own problems and they are big ones."
Very big. Beyond the glamour and frenetic nightlife that Belgrade has become known for lies a government in tatters.
A parliamentary election in early May ended with the pro-Western party winning the most votes, but with little hope it could form a united government with its nationalistic opponents.
Two months later, the country is still without a functioning government - a black eye for a nation used to strife.
The police appear to be on edge. On two separate occasions this week, Serbian police ordered a Daily News photographer to erase his photos.
In 1999, Milosevic, intent on driving ethnic Albanians out of Kosovo, sent Serb soldiers and police rampaging into the neighboring province.
Then-President Bill Clinton pushed for the NATO attacks, which killed thousands of Serbs and left several government buildings obliterated. Today many political observers believe the bombing campaign was unwarranted.
In Serbia, feelings are still raw.
Dragana Grujin, 30, said she hates Clinton for the devastation he brought to her country nine years ago.
"I don't like it when people get killed for nothing," said Grujin, a hotel worker from Belgrade. "What America did was not necessary. Everybody here feels the same way."
As for Kovacevic, Grujin's views of the case mirrored many of her fellow Serbs. "There was a fight and the Serbian guy was tougher," she said. "What's the big deal?"
Solution: Give them Gen. Wesley Clark, no security, no strings.
It amazes me that the most significant war action during the Clinton years was carried out against our Christian Serb allies in support of Muslim Albanian terrorists. Interesting flip side to say the least. The Serbs were not faultless but they were certainly not a threat to us and though their methods were harsh they are attempting to turn back the Muslim hoards who had a very bad habit of trying to institute Islamic law and burning churches and such. Kosovo is now reported to have become a hot bed of radicalism even after the US held the line for them.
don’t you remember that we went to war because there were those 10,000 dead people mass graves?.......oh, never mind...I forgot.....there were no mass graves....just another Clinton lie.....
"What America did was not necessary. Everybody here feels the same way."
Many Americans feel the same way. I'm disgusted that my party didn't object more strongly to Clinton's policy.
“There was a fight and the Serbian guy was tougher, Whats the big deal?” What a proud nation.
Atrocities were carried out by all sides in that conflict. I do not wish to minimize Serbian ones or entirely ignore as does the world the terrorist actions of Albanians and Muslims in the area. Do you think that Muslims were the innocent victims of Serbs who just up and decided to eradicate them? There was nothing that justified our attacks against Serbia. Millions died and are dieing in Africa and we do and did nothing. I still think what we did was wrong where Serbia was concerned and what did it gain us? Not a thing.
The Serbs haven’t been pussified yet by the multicultural PC crowd. And they know very well what the muslims are up to.
Now for the reality: Serbia disciplines diplomats accused of helping crime suspect flee US
“It amazes me that the most significant war action during the Clinton years was carried out against our Christian Serb allies in support of Muslim Albanian terrorists”
The Serbs were also killing christian croations.
The justification at the time was that Clinton felt he was preventing another genocide - and he oftened referred to how the assassination in Sarajevo started a world war.
If memory serves me correctly, the dems were falling all over Clinton’s bravery in preventing bloodshed - protecting innocents from an aggressive dictator.
That same thinking didn’t - however - carry over to the situation in Iraq.
You mean the same Clinton who stood by and did nothing while a real genocide was happening in Rwanda?
They are looking for Kovecevic about as hard as they are searching for Ratko Mladic.
“I’m disgusted that my party didn’t object more strongly to Clinton’s policy.”
Are you also disgusted that your party has continued to pursue that policy or is it OK for the Bush Administration to recognize and finance and protect a Mohammedan, white slaving, drug running, human organ selling, Christian church destroying, terror statelet in the Balkans?
BTW, among the biggest financial backers of McCain are the KLA Mohammedans and their Albanian fellow travelers here in America.
From the article you posted: "Serbian authorities are awaiting more information from the United States before issuing an arrest warrant for a Serbian basketball player charged in New York with beating a college classmate to near death, the public prosecutor said Thursday."
So you've proved that they haven't issued a warrant yet while OJ Simpson walks around a free man?
exactly. No one accused him of being consistent.
Wasn’t that Wesley’s baby too?
Ratko Mladic the great Serb hero walks free too.
Pick on someone you know you can kill. The law of the jungle. Keep it out of the U.S. . We have enough home grown animals.
no argument from me there.
My point? It would be a mistake to characterize the conflict as christian vs. muslim.
The same tribal conflicts have existed for centuries.
muslim vs. christian.
croat vs. croation
then throw in the communists - fascists - ustasi.
It’s a brew of indecipherable hatred where no one admits fault from their own group and points their fingers everywhere else.
I bet their worse than the middle easterners.
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