Three years have elapsed since unidentified men, wearing balaclavas, stormed the Belgrade quarter of Savamala, Hercegovacka Street to be more precise, in the middle of the night, and demolished houses and facilities there.
Today, Savamala is a big construction site where the real estate project Belgrade Waterfront is being developed, also dubbed “the project of national importance” by the Serbian authorities. Although nearly completed, the Belgrade Waterfront towers are still mainly empty and the apartments there are sold for exuberant amounts of money.
The people who had lived in Savamala before it was demolished are resettled and live in other parts of the city. However, none of them wants to publicly speak for the media, because they fear that they will have problems with the new accommodation they have been given in exchange for demolished houses. Some Savamala residents, whose houses have been destroyed, signed housing contracts with the government with the validity period of between three and five years.
One of the former guards at the Iskra Company, which facilities were also demolished on April 24, 2016, said that, on that fated night, people wearing balaclavas tied him up and took his mobile phone away. That night, the street lighting in Savamala did not work, and the police reacted only ten days after demolition, following the orders of the Public Prosecutor. Dusan Miljevic, the owner of Iskra, continues to fight in court for his company claiming that the demolition was illegal. However, he had no significant progress with his lawsuit.
The ‘Let’s not drown Belgrade’ initiative (Ne Davimo Beograd) will mark the third anniversary of the Savamala demolition by staging an exhibition in an attempt to draw public attention to the fact that nobody has been prosecuted for the demolition as yet.
According to the initiative, the city officials orchestrated the demolition in Hercegovacka Street and after being exposed, the entire state apparatus was involved in a cover-up operation, as well as resorted to threatening and pressuring people who spoke openly about this crime.
In June 2016, the then Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vucic accused the top Belgrade officials of being behind the demolition in Savamala. Furthermore, Marija Mali, the ex-wife of now Finance Minister, Sinisa Mali, who was the Belgrade Mayor at the time, said, in an interview for KRIK, that her husband had told her that he had orchestrated the entire demolition. He later denied these accusations.
There is still no official explanation as to who exactly carried out the demolition and on whose orders.
A year after the demolition, the Public Prosecutor’s Office said that it was not in charge of prosecuting the case and forwarded it to the General Jurisdiction Public Prosecutor’s Office. Last year, a criminal complaint was filed against the head of shift at the Belgrade police, Goran Stamenkovic who was accused of not doing his job properly.
This post is also available in: Italiano