Serbs rally in support of replaced anti-graft prosecutors

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — About 2,000 people in Serbia rallied Thursday in support of two anti-corruption prosecutors who allegedly were replaced after investigating corruption at the country's state-run power company.

Organizers promoted the protest in central Belgrade with the slogan “We won't give up our Lauras,” in reference to European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kovesi. She was fired as the head of the National Anticorruption Directorate in her native Romania after trying to crack down on graft.

Corruption is believed to be widespread in Serbia, where a populist government has ruled practically unchallenged for the past 10 years while imposing strict controls on institutions and mainstream media.

The protesters gathered outside the Serbian government headquarters shouted "Thieves!” before marching toward the public prosecutor's office. They demanded the reinstatement of the two prosecutors and the removal from office of their superiors.

The prosecutors have told Serbian news outlets they were transferred from the anti-corruption office to other departments as they ordered the arrests of suspects. The Superior Public Prosecutor's office in Belgrade said the transfers were part of routine procedures.

Although Serbia has pledged to improve the rule of law and fight corruption as part of its pursuit of European Union membership, the country's judiciary remains inefficient and exposed to political and other outside influence.

The Associated Press