Hawks block ‘short cut’ to expel fugitive

An attempt to fast track the extradition of Serbian fugitive Dobrosav Gavric was stymied on Thursday morning in Cape Town by the Hawks — they refused to hand him over to the home affairs department after the department had declared him a “prohibited person”.

Home affairs director general Mkuseli Apleni said Gavric and his wife Danijela Lazic were both declared “undesirable persons”.

Apleni was quoted as saying: “On the basis of this fraudulent passport, permit and false identity, Mr Gavric and his wife, Danijela Lazic, fraudulently acquired temporary residence permits and [subsequently] permanent residence permits.”

Gavric is facing extradition to Serbia, where he was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the assassination of Serbian warlord Zeljko “Arkan” Raznatovic in 2000. Gavric had been on the run since his conviction in 2006 and was only identified and then arrested in terms of an international arrest warrant by South African police in December.

Home affairs moved to deport Gavric but the police refused to hand him over and said that it was “illegal to deport him while the extradition process is ongoing”.

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela said the police would speak to the state prosecutor on Friday for advice on how to proceed with the matter to ensure that it is legally sound.

Gavric’s bail application has been postponed several times since his arrest, the last until Friday, pending the outcome of his application to home affairs for refugee status.

His cover was compromised after he was identified as the driver of the car that mob boss Cyril Beeka was travelling in when Beeka was killed in a drive-by shooting in March last year.

At the time of Beeka’s murder Gavric identified himself as Bosnian Sasa Kovacevic but his true identity emerged late last year.

Gavric claims that if he is returned to Serbia he will be in danger of a revenge hit by allies of Arkan, the Serbian gangster and war criminal he was convicted of killing. He has protested his innocence and claims that his trial was unfair. — Amabhungane reporters

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