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A Serbian court has rejected Montenegro’s request to extradite one of its citizens wanted by Montenegrin authorities for his alleged participation in an attempted coup.
Serbian citizens Predrag Bogicevic and Nemanja Ristic have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in an alleged plot to overthrow Montenegro’s government in October.
The Belgrade high court rejected Montenegro’s request to extradite Nemanja Ristic, saying the request was “unfounded.” The decision was made on February 8, the court said.
The ruling can’t be appealed, but the case file can be sent to the Appellate Court in Belgrade for a final revision.
An extradition request for Bogicevic was approved last month by a court in the Serbian city of Kragujevac.
Bogicevic continues to be in Serbian custody; Ristic has been released.
However, in a written statement to RFE/RL, Serbia’s Justice Ministry said it was the minister herself, Nela Kuburovic, who will have the last word in either case.
“The final decision on an extradition is made by the justice minister, after the courts send their decisions,” the statement said.
Montenegro’s chief prosecutor has identified two Russian citizens as the suspected organizers of the alleged coup attempt in Podgorica, which he has linked to the government’s push to join NATO.
In December 2015 Montenegro received an invitation to join NATO.
Ristic made headlines in December when he appeared in a photograph standing near Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during the official’s visit to Belgrade.
Montenegro has arrested around 20 people in connection with the alleged plot, most of them Serbian nationals.
Russia has denied involvement but has actively supported local groups that oppose Montenegro becoming a NATO member.
Source: Radio Television Montenegro