In its press release, the Italian Embassy in Belgrade said that, contrary to media reports, none of the Italian diplomats took part in an inappropriate party that mayor of Jagodina organized but it was rather the former Italian honorary consul of Serbia that was present.
The official reaction comes after statements made by Sanda Raskovic-Ivic, former Serbian ambassador to Rome, now vice-president of the People’s Party, on the events in Jagodina.
The politician revealed a few days ago that the Jagodina mayor, Dragan Markovic, popularly known as Palma, had induced girls into prostitution during the Italian honorary consul of Serbia, Professor Roberto Veraldi’s visit to Serbia and Jagodina, in 2011.
“Veraldi told me and it all happened just before the end of my term in Rome. Palma invited a group of Italians to Jagodina, which also included Veraldi, the mayor of Pescara, and several Italian businessmen, to discuss investment opportunities. Veraldi told me that Ivica Dacic (now Speaker of the Serbian Parliament) was also present and that the invited girls did not wear any panties,” confirmed Raskovic-Ivic.
“While the girls were dancing, Palma approached Veraldi and asked him which one he wanted, Veraldi replied ‘no thanks, I’m not interested, I don’t want any’. “[Palma] at that point said to his translator ‘this guy is gay, I’m not interested in doing business with him’, with a disgusted expression on his face,” Raskovic-Ivic adds.
She went on to say that that was not the end of the story and that Palma had sent a naked girl to Professor Veraldi’s room, but she was let out immediately.
“The next day, Palma did not want to sit next to the honorary consul, saying that he could not sit next to a homosexual,” Sanda Raskovic Ivic added and pointed out that the Italian delegation was composed of intellectuals in their forties, serious people who were married.
She could not confirm whether the girls mentioned by Veraldi were of age or underage, but added that “it was definitely prostitution since they had not met at a party, but the women had been brought in specifically to entertain foreign guests”.
“I don’t know if paedophilia really existed around Palma, but he is one of the pillars of the regime and that is so evident now more than ever,” continued Sanda Raskovic Ivic.
Professor Veraldi is also known to the university public for having withdrawn from the commission which was supposed to revise the doctoral thesis of the then-mayor of Belgrade, Siniša Mali, in 2017. He had informed the authorities that he was resigning for health reasons and had also resigned from his position as honorary consul of the Republic of Serbia for the Abruzzo Region, based in Teramo.
Veraldi actually did not want to be the object of a showdown between political dissidents. The decision to step down followed an attack by a segment of public opinion in Serbia, in which his academic qualifications were disputed.
Veraldi was also under attack because the former President of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolić, had awarded him the Gold Medal for outstanding merits in educational and cultural activities. This was linked to his future involvement in the commission for the revision of Siniša Mali’s doctorate, although Veraldi had been awarded at the suggestion of the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade, with which he had been working closely for years.
This post is also available in: Italiano