Serbian education minister resigns following the Belgrade shooting

Serbian Education Minister, Branko Ružić, has submitted an official letter of his resignation following the shooting in the Vladislav Ribnikar elementary school where eight children and one security guard were killed.

The massacre, during which 21 people were also wounded, has stunned and horrified Serbia, which tops the European list of registered arms per capita but had its last mass shooting a decade ago.

Soon after the first attack, Ružić was quick to blame “the cancerous, pernicious influence of the internet, video games, so-called Western values.” Such criticism is common in Serbia, which has refused to fully face its role in the wars of the 1990s that accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia.

In his resignation letter, he also says that he feels “a moral and professional obligation to sincerely thank everyone in the education system – teaching and extracurricular staff, principals, students, rectors, deans, heads of school administrations, psychologists, pedagogues, teachers, representatives of all trade unions in education, as well as all state secretaries, assistant ministers, advisers, employees of the Ministry, for very fruitful cooperation.

Also, I express my gratitude to you personally and to all colleagues in the Government of the Republic of Serbia, as well as to the President of the Republic for the long-term cooperation, mutual trust and struggle for a better and more successful Serbia.

I will always carry the dramatic images of events from the school and tears shed when expressing condolences to the inconsolable parents of the injured children, as a stamp on my soul.

In the silence of the three-day national mourning, as a responsible and well-mannered man, professional in the performance of all previous public duties, as a parent and citizen of the Republic of Serbia, which always comes first to me, and in accordance with Article 23 of the Law on Government, I made the only rational and honourable decision in these circumstances.

I submit my irrevocable resignation from the position of Minister of Education in the Government of the Republic of Serbia.”

Serbia’s last mass shooting was in 2013, when a war veteran killed 13 people. The assailant in Wednesday’s violence, the country’s first mass school shooting, was a 13-year-old boy who opened fire on his fellow students, killing seven girls, a boy and a school guard.

The next day, a 20-year-old man fired randomly in two villages in central Serbia, killing eight people. Both he and the boy in the primary school attack were apprehended. The boy is too young to be criminally charged and was placed in a mental clinic. The man, identified as Uroš Blažić, faces charges of first-degree murder and unauthorized possession of guns and ammunition.

Opposition politicians have accused Serbian President, Aleksandar Vučić, of undermining the rights of the two accused shooters to fair trials by predicting that the 20-year would “never again see the light of the day” and releasing medical information about the 13-year-old along with the salaries of his parents.

(Radio Free Europe, N1, 07.05.2023)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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