Surge of murders shocks public in Serbia

A drastic increase in mass murders and violent crimes has shocked Serbia lately, prompting calls to bring back the death penalty.

Surge of murders shocks public in Serbia

A drastic increase in mass murders and violent crimes has shocked Serbia lately, prompting calls to bring back the death penalty.

The latest shock occurred last week when a man, believed to be mentally deranged, killed nine people in the village of Jabukovac, near the eastern city of Negotin.

The killer, Nikola Radosavljevic, came back for a vacation from Austria where he had worked for several years, and started firing at his neighbors at random from a hunter's rifle. He later told police he was under the influence of "black magic" allegedly cast upon him by a neighbour.

Three weeks ago in the capital Belgrade, a man killed his aunt, her husband and daughter for money, ransacked the house and then set it on fire. In the western city of Sabac a man killed his grandparents for money last December, and a jealous husband killed his wife and her parents in the eastern city of Pancevo in May last year.

Such grim news, which has dominated Serbian newspapers, was rare before the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, which had one of the lowest crime rates in Europe.

But since the region was flooded with weapons during the last decade's Balkan wars, all sorts of crimes have sharply increased, with axes and knives often replacing firearms.

Shootouts between criminal gangs, which surged during the years of war and international sanctions, have often made Belgrade and major Serbian cities resemble 1930s Chicago.

But other sorts of violent crimes have spiralled as well. The crime rate doubled between 1989 and 1993 and in the following ten years there had been 614 murders by family members alone, police statistics showed.

Psychiatrists say that the war environment greatly contributed to the criminalisation of society, noting that money, greed, jealousy, conflicts over property, and mental problems are the most frequent cause for violent crimes.

They point out that the number of mass murders and other crimes is still far behind the rate of the US and some European states, but is considered alarming for a small Balkan country.

Commenting on the latest phenomena, Belgrade daily Kurir called for the reinstatement of the death penalty as the only efficient deterrent against violent crimes. "Abolition of the death penalty may be fine for civilized Europe, but seems premature for the Balkans," the paper said.

Serbian journalists' associations have called on media to refrain from "sensationalistic reporting" of violent crime, which often makes perpetrators look "like some kind of anti-heroes".

AKI

Last Mod: 03 Ağustos 2007, 17:37
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