Former Kosovo mayor suspected of recovering € 1m in bribes

Kosovo police operation against corruption allegations in Shterpce / Strpce municipality on December 21. Photo: BIRN.

Prosecutors suspect former mayor Bratislav Nikolic of having received money and goods worth 1,318,000 euros from 2014 to 2018 to provide permits for the construction of villas at a tourist site in Brezovica and in the Sharri National Park in Kosovo, according to records obtained by BIRN.

Nikolic, the former mayor of Shterpce / Strpce municipality, was arrested on Tuesday for suspected influence peddling, corruption and abuse of power.

Prosecutors suspect him of having received money in the amount of 940,000 euros, five villas valued at 300,000 euros and a Range Rover car valued at 78,000 euros in return for the issuance of building permit in Brezovica.

Nikolic is also suspected of having received a bribe of 210,000 euros for issuing 21 building permits for weekend houses for investor Stella Consulting, as well as an additional 200,000 euros for a building permit. for a hotel complex for Stella Consulting.

Nikolic was among ten people arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of corruption and abuse of power over permits to build villas on Brezovica Mountain, a winter tourist destination in southeastern Kosovo.

The former mayor has yet to comment on the allegations.

Police also arrested Shterpce / Strpce Town Planning Director Dimitrije Racicevic; construction inspectors Shterpce / Strpce Dragomir Milosavlevic and Hysni Barjami; the director of the cadastral register of the municipality, Sasa Milosavlevic; the director of the municipal inspectorate, Raif Bajrami; two representatives of two companies, plus two other persons suspected of aiding in the offenses.

Serbian government office director for Kosovo Petar Petkovic said on Tuesday that the arrests of Nikolic and the others were “yet another brutal attempt to intimidate the Serbian people in Kosovo”.

The Belgrade-backed Serbian political party in Kosovo, Srpska Lista, also condemned what it called a “brutal” police operation and demanded an end to “provocations” in the Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo.

The suspects are taken into custody and the Ferizaj / Urosevac court has accepted the public prosecutor’s request for detention.

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