Head of the Serbian consulate fired

July 2, 2008 12:58:36 PM PDT
Slobodan Nenodovic, the head of the Serbian consulate in Manhattan, was fired today over the escape of a Serbian suspected of beating a fellow college student, nearly to death. The head of the Serbian consulate in Manhattan was fired today, nearly one month after a Serbian national jumped $100,000 bail by using an illegally-issued passport to flee the U.S.

Slobodan Nenodovic was formally dismissed by members of the outgoing Serbian government following a teleconference. An American official called the firing "remarkable" given the uncertain political circumstances in Serbia.

"We have been told that the new Serbian government is taking what happened very seriously and this firing is a clear sign of that. But, make no mistake, we and all Americans will not be happy until Mr. Kovacevic is returned the U.S. to face justice." said Sen. Schumer.

The United States on has formally demanded the arrest of the Serbian basketball player who fled the U.S. after being charged with severely beating a college classmate.

The 6-foot-9-inch (2.05-meter), 260-pound (118-kilogram) Miladin Kovacevic, who was recruited to play basketball for Binghamton University in upstate New York, was arrested after a May 4 fight at a downtown Binghamton bar that left student Bryan Steinhauer near death.

Steinhauer, 22, remains in critical condition and has not regained consciousness since the attack.

New York congressmen have asked U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to pressure Serbia to immediately help locate the 20-year-old basketball player and return him to the United States, or face possible sanctions.

U.S. police said Kovacevic was at the bar with friends when Steinhauer danced with one of their girlfriends. Witnesses told police the men exchanged words before a fight ensued. Kovacevic is accused of repeatedly kicking Steinhauer in the head.

After several weeks in jail, Kovacevic was released June 6 when his family posted US$100,000 (euro63,000) bail. He left the U.S. on June 9.

As a condition of his release, Kovacevic surrendered his Serbian passport, but Serbian Deputy Consul Igor Milosevic allegedly furnished Kovacevic with travel documents. The Serbian Foreign Ministry said Milosevic is facing disciplinary action for issuing the new documents.