On the 27th April 2012, Jugoremedija has submitted to the State Public Attorney a proposal for a peaceful settlement of dispute, seeking damages for the unlawful actions of government bodies in selling shares of the company (privatization) in 2002, and for the lack of supervision over the execution of the privatization contract. These actions allowed Jovica Stefanovic (the new “owner-investor”) in 2004 to dismissed 150 workers and continuously rob the factory until March 2007 when he lost control of Jugoremedija in a lawsuit initiated against him by the factory’s small shareholders. The damage Jugoremedija, its workers and shareholders for failure to State organs was estimated at 111 million euro. The submission of the proposal for a peaceful settlement of dispute, was followed by amplified attacks by the Authorities, which lasts to this day.
29th of June – Shareholders’ assembly
The Annual General Meeting of Shareholders of Jugoremedija needed to take the necessary decisions that would allow the company to comply with the new Companies Act that has set deadline for all companies in Serbia to harmonize their regulations and structure with its provisions by 15th of July 2012, otherwise they would be liquidated.
However, one group of shareholders did not certify their powers of attorney for the assembly (a new provision by law) and could not officially participate in the voting; the second group i.e. the State which has 30% vote, was sent to abstain, but their power of attorney was submitted after the statutory deadline and so could not take part in the voting, as well. The Assembly was postponed for two weeks for lack of quorum which put the company at risk of missing the legal deadline and being liquidated.
15th of July – Postponed Shareholders’ assembly
For a postponed assembly, the law allows for a lower quorum, and decisions on aligning Jugoremedija with new Company Law were adopted. The state is once again sent their representatives to abstain. However, the vote is by power of attorney and since the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development did not want to take the political responsibility for the liquidation of Jugoremedija (especially during the election campaign!), this power of attorney was signed by a lower official of the Agency for Privatization instead of the Minister himself. Therefore, the verification Commission did not allow the representatives of the State to vote in this postponed assembly as well. Jugoremedija liquidation is avoided or rather the intention of the State to avoid a decision on the claim for damages by liquidating the legal person who has filed it failed.
28th of July
Unknown persons set fire to the company car that is used by Jugoremedija’s CEO Zdravko Deurić, in the parking lot outside the building where he lives. Till now, the perpetrators have not been caught although they were documented by security cameras set on the neighboring building. Mainstream media in Serbia reported this news with the commentary that workers of Jugoremedija have not been paid for months.
1st of August
Police arrested Zdravko Deurić, Ankica Malušić – the financial director Jugoremedija, Milana Zlokas – the director of Penfarme (a new factory for the production of penicillin) and Stevan Gregovic – an appraiser and court expert, on suspicion of wrong estimation of Jugoremedija’s investment and therefore its respective part in ownership in the new company and factory Penfarm by which, it was assumed, Jugoremedija was damaged for 600 thousand Euro. They were ordered a two-day detention. After two days Ankica Malušić and Stevan Gregović were released whereas the detention of Zdravko Deurić and Milana Zlokas was extended for a month on account that they might influence witnesses while the investigative judge is on his annual summer vacation. A few days later the Police began bringing in Jugoremedija’s workers and shareholders for “informal” interrogation, which itself is illegal since once and investigation is officially opened citizens connected to the case can be questioned only as witnesses. they were pressured to testify against Deurić and Zlokas, or to be accused themselves (e.g., a police inspector told Jelena Lukic Jugoremedija’s deputy director, during her questioning that he is not yet sure whether she was brought in as the defendant, a witness or as a citizen).
2nd of August
First protest rally of more than a hundred of Jugoremedija’s workers and shareholders in front of Zrenjanin’s Central Police Station (Zrenjaninskog MUP-a), demanding the termination of the detention on account of its irregular procedures.
3rd of August
At 10 o’clock Jugoremedija’s workers and shareholders occupy Zrenjanin City Hall, seeking to speak with Goran Knezevic, Zrenjanin’s Mayor and Minister of Agriculture. Knezevic only appears around midnight and promises concrete information about the release of the detained and help for Jugoremedija in several days. Protesters are breaking.
6th of August
Jugoremedija files a lawsuit against Republic of Serbia for damages of privatization in the amount of 111 million Euro, following the expiration of the legal period given by law for the Attorney General to respond to the proposal for peaceful settlement of the dispute.
8th of August
Finance (tax) and crime police enter the factory to conduct a two-month long investigative search. Workers are questioned daily in the premises of the factory, and the police declares the drugs found in a warehouse evidence and bans their sale.
14th of August
“State violence against JUGOREMEDIJA” a round table organized by Center for Cultural Decontamination and CA Ravnopravnost. Speakers: Nebojsa Popov, sociologist, Zagorka Golubovic, anthropologist, Dr. Ivan Jankovic, lawyer, Sasa Jankovic, Ombudsman, Gordana Spasojevic, lawyer; Branislav Markus, president of Ravnopravnost; Zlokas Vera, the mother detained Milane Zlokas, Jasenka Golic, lawyer of Jugoremedija; Ljubica Stjepanovic – Muhić, President of Shareholders Association Prosveta, Belgrade, Zoran Gočević, leader of the former employees and shareholders Srbolek.
15th of August
Forty workers of Jugoremedija gather outside Zrenjanin’s Central Police Station (Zrenjaninskog MUP-a), and demand to be informed as to the progress in the investigation of Deurić’s torched car. The head of the investigation informs them, the next day, in written form that the investigation is ongoing.
17th of August
Forty employees and shareholders Jugoremedija gathers in front of the jail with a request to be allowed to visit the detainees, but the visits were permitted only to members of the immediate families.
20th of August
Another protest held in front of Zrenjanin’s High Court for breach of the presumption of innocence of the detainees. The presumption of innocence was violated because Deurić and Zlokas were detained while the police did not yet qualify the crime with which they were charged, but continued to investigate even after detention. The representatives of the protest Branislav Markus (Ravnopravnost) and Vladimir Pecikoza (Union Jugoremedija) were met by the Secretary of the High Court Branislav Golijanin who promised them a written response as soon as possible to the allegations that the detention of Zdravko Deurić and Milana Zlokas violated their presumption of innocence. To this day the answer has not arrived.
22th of August
While in custody, Zdravko Deurić resigns from the position of CEO of Jugoremedija, at the insistence of the two defense lawyers hired by him on recommendation of the Minister of Agriculture and former Mayor of Zrenjanin Goran Knezevic. As visits were limited solely to Deurić’s family members and lawyers and Deurić has no direct contact with leading factory management or those of the anti-corruption struggle. Therefore, attorneys could convince him that for now, his resignation is the best solution for Jugoremedija and that it is also the position of the Board of Directors of the factory, which was untrue. Jugoremedija’s Board of Directors accepts, the next day, Deurić resignation in the belief that is his wish.
27th of August
The European Parliament Liaison for European Integration in South East Europe Jelko Kacin, visits the workers and shareholders of Jugoremedija. Kacin said on that occasion that the resolution of the European Parliament to investigate 24 cases of controversial privatization, among which is the privatization of Jugoremedija was understood by anyone who knows the Serbian language, and the European Parliament in its resolution clearly stated that it expects to investigate suspected corruption in privatization, not to arrest shareholders.
28th of August
Zrenjanin’s power company tries to turn the power off in Jugoremedija, but is disrupted by the workers.
4th and 5th of September
The investigating judge hears all ten witnesses and nevertheless orders another month of detention for Deurić and Zlokas, on the State Prosecutors “word” that the investigation will be expended.
7th of September
Another protest in front of the prison to demand the release of Zdravko and Milana
19th of September
Association Ravnopravnost in cooperation with the Center for Cultural Decontamination organized another protest in front of the prison where in addition to Jugoremedija’s workers and shareholders participate dozens of workers from several Belgrade companies in the process of privatization (Srbolek, Rekord, Trudbenik …), non-governmental organizations and individuals from other towns in Serbia.
20th of September
Milana Zlokas and Zdravko Deurić are released from custody. No evidence was found for the embezzlement of 600 thousand Euros.
11th of October
The High Public Prosecutor expands investigation against Zdravko Deurić and Ankice Malušić for alleged tax evasion and to initiate proceedings to seize his assets in order to secure payment if a court determines that the State was damaged due to the unpaid taxes.