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16 November 2010 - Media release

Serbian Minister offers share of seized criminal assets to INTERPOL to support fight against transnational crime

LYON, France – In a visit to the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters today, Serbia’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Ivica Dacic requested the help of the world police organization in locating fugitive war criminals.

Other key issues discussed by Minister Dacic and INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble during the visit included Serbia’s ongoing involvement in several INTERPOL projects, including ‘Pink Panthers’ which co-ordinates worldwide investigations of high-value armed jewellery robberies, and Project BESA, supported by the Southeast Europe Police Chiefs Association (SEPCA) which enables a network of law enforcement partners to initiate, plan, organize and conduct joint investigations into criminal groups active in the region.

Minister Dacic, who was accompanied by Director of Serbian Police Milorad Veljovic, and by Milos Oparnica, the head of INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau in Belgrade, said that co-operation with INTERPOL is a priority for Serbia’s Ministry of Interior.

"Serbia and INTERPOL have enjoyed great co-operation in locating fugitives wanted for ordinary crimes, so we are now asking INTERPOL’s assistance in helping to locate fugitives wanted in connection with the very serious offence of war crimes,” said Minister Dacic.

As part of Serbia’s commitment to combating transnational crime and terrorism, the Minister also offered to provide INTERPOL with a share of criminal assets seized by police to boost the organization’s global efforts, a proposal welcomed by Secretary General Noble as ‘farsighted and generous’.

Responding to Serbia’s request for assistance in locating war crimes fugitives, Mr Noble said that ‘the General Secretariat will issue an alert to all of our 188 member countries asking them to take special measures to help Serbia in locating war crimes fugitives in order that they can be brought to justice.’

“Serbia’s participation in INTERPOL projects such as Pink Panthers and BESA play an important part in their success, not only in identifying and arresting transnational criminals, but in making Serbia and the wider region safer and more secure for its citizens,” added the INTERPOL chief.

Serbia participates in the SEPCA-INTERPOL I-24/7 expansion project which will see the provision of access to INTERPOL’s global databases to frontline officers across the country, particularly at border control points, assisting in the detection of individuals attempting to enter or leave the country who are internationally wanted, or using fraudulent travel documents.

Created in 2007, INTERPOL’s Pink Panthers Project co-ordinates the worldwide campaign across its 188 member countries against the crime gang which is believed to include approximately 400 individuals responsible for more than 190 robberies in 27 countries since 1999, with the value of stolen jewellery estimated in excess of EUR 250 million.