A widening corruption scandal, or something else

Here is a piece of breaking news that came out while we were walking our dog. Apparently Vladan Batić, the former justice minister who is president of the Christian Democratic Party of Serbia, is being held by police in connection with a corruption scandal. The given reason has to do with the release of an organised crime figure while he was minister. No concrete details, except that his party has issued a statement labelling the charges as political and saying that he has begun a hunger strike.

Update: It is still difficult to say what is up here. The official statement is that he "abused an official position" while he was minister, but it is not clear how. If the issue in question is the release from prison of a member of the "Kruševac group," this is something the justice minister could have achieved only indirectly, through prosecutors, judges, or the prison administration. On the other hand, the charge from Batić's party about the government using police to settle accounts with political opponents is not too persuasive either, as Batić can hardly be counted as a meaningful political force. My sense is that larger forces are probably not at stake, but that small ones may very well be.

Another update: On 30 September he was released, with no charges. This would tend to give credence to the thesis that it was political intimidation, though it remains unclear why anybody would have anything to gain by intimidating Batić. Alternatively, the government is such a panic over corruption that it no longer knows what it is up to.

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