BELGRADE – News that proceedings have been suspended against American Lucas V. (17) who, towards the end of October of last year, stabbed Belgrade resident Tomo Culafic (19) and basketball player KK Beko in Kalemegdan, and that the young New Yorker was let off with only a “sorry”, shocked the public.

Lucas V. - Photo: Alo.rs
Lucas V. – Photo: Alo.rs

Many consider such an unusual court decision “shameful for the Serbian judiciary”, and there are those who think it was “instructed” to make this decision, Vecernje Novosti reports.

Goran Petronijevic, Toma Culafic’s lawyer, was frightened by what occurred behind the closed doors of the juvenile department of the Higher Court in Belgrade, primarily regarding the
prosecution.

“In this case, the prosecution’s investigation was orchestrated with unprofessionalism and appeasement, completely ignoring all the evidence from the police, hospital, and others”, claims Petronijevic.

“The American was met in every way with evidence against him. Even though he almost killed this innocent young man, in other words badly injured him, he got off without being jailed, without facing a charge, and with barely a ‘sorry’ for his acts. This is an embarrassment for the Serbian judiciary.”

Petronijevic gave “Novosti” what were up until now unknown details pertaining to the case: “The investigation led to a series of failures. First, the prosecution reversed the statement made by an expert regarding the weapon with which Culafic was stabbed. Despite the fact that the expert was certain that the weapon in question was a knife or pocketknife, the prosecution made a final statement saying that the young man was stabbed with an ‘unidentified object’, which is absurd. Also, the prosecution deliberately overlooked the fact that the young American had made communications that night with his friends over telephone in regards to making statements, as well as wanting to flee from Serbia. He was, after all, arrested at the airport before his attempt to flee. Is all this not enough evidence to point to the fact that he wished to avoid responsibility for what he had done?”

Finally, according to the lawyer, the young New Yorker knew very well how, where, and with what to stab the Serbian basketball player: “The public is not aware of the fact that the American is a skilled fencer that that he has been engaged in this sport since he was young. It has been confirmed that he was the champion fencer amongst his generation of high schoolers four years in a row. That is why, this fateful night, he knew exactly how and where to stab Culafic. He stabbed Culafic with a knife, which he later attempted to dispose of, right in the chest and only two centimeters from the heart. The man barely survived.”

Despite this, Lukas V. managed to avoid prosecution and jail time in Serbia. He made a deal with the prosecution that allowed him to bypass corrective measures for inflicting light injuries.

He was originally suspected of attempted murder. Likewise, the family of the underage American had originally submitted 25,000 euros bail to the Higher Court in Belgrade for his release from prison, an amount which will be returned to them.

“I wonder how the situation would have played out had a Serbian in America committed the same act or, for example, had a Serbian stabbed an American in Belgrade? In any case, we will be seeking compensation for authorities in Serbia, and likewise in America; in other words, we will be seeking redress for what their citizen did to this young man.”

Unfortunately, this is not the only case in which the Serbian judiciary accidentally or deliberately turned a blind eye to crimes committed to foreigners in our country. So passes a full year since the accident that had occurred on the way from Kopaonik to Brus, in which Milanka Popovic (77) was killed by a representative of the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade. The accident occurred when a jeep traveling at high speed rammed into a Peugot 605, in which Milanka found herself in the passenger seat. The jeep was driven by the head of the economic department of the American Embassy David Andrew Krzywda. The force of the blow to the vehicle caused Milanka to be killed on the spot, while her daughter and son sustained heavy injuries.

Krzywda admitted guilt at the scene of the crime, according to Milanka’s daughter Gradimirka Popovic. However, to this day, he has not taken responsibility for what he has done, probably because he was granted immunity. It likewise hurts that, even after a year, nobody from the American embassy has come forward with an apology, words of comfort, or any compassion.

Convicted Foreigners

According to last year’s data, 170 foreign prisoners served and are serving sentences in Serbia. Most of these individuals were imprisoned due to crimes concerning drugs and robberies. A majority of foreign citizens serving sentences come from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Romania, Austria, Macedonia, and the Netherlands.

As a rule, foreign nationals serve their sentences in Sremska Mitrovica Penitentiary, but also among other Serbian prisons.