Dragan Veselinov
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Dragan Veselinov
Dragan Veselinov 2002.

Dragan Veselinov (Serbian Cyrillic: ) is a Serbian politician, currently[] president of the People's Peasant Party. As the president of the People's Peasant Party (founded in 1990), he was among few Serbians to go openly against the Serbian nationalist policies of Slobodan Milo?evi? and his allies in the early 1990s.[1] He previously served as Minister of Agriculture in the Serbian government. He served under two prime ministers, Zoran ?in?i? and Zoran ?ivkovi?, from 2001 until 2003, before resigning under public pressure when his chauffeur-driven government-issued vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian on a sidewalk in Belgrade.

Car crash and ministerial resignation

On April 15, 2003, around 9:40 am, a government-issued Mitsubishi Pajero SUV driven by Stevan Bakalov with Veselinov and his bodyguard in the back seat and rotation lights turned on was heading down Beogradska Street towards Slavija Square in downtown Belgrade. At the intersection with Njego?eva Street, the SUV struck a white Mercedes 190 taxi, then lost control and ended up on the sidewalk where three pedestrians were waiting to cross the street. The SUV struck the three pedestrians before slamming into a traffic pole and stopping. Thirty-two-year-old pedestrian Katarina Mari? died instantly while the other pedestrian, Srbislav ?iri?, was heavily injured.[2]

Veselinov initially did not show the intention of resigning, until public pressure grew,[3] that he also experienced pressure from within the government to do so. He announced his resignation on May 29, 2003.[4]

The court process in this case started when district public prosecutors office issued an indictment against Bakalov in late May 2004, more than a year after the accident.[5] Eventually, on March 2, 2006, Veselinov's driver Bakalov received a five-year prison sentence for "causing the traffic accident".[6] The judicial council presided over by judge Branka Pejovi? found Bakalov guilty of driving at higher than allowed speed and running a red light. On appeal, the sentence was then reduced to four years in May 2007.[7] Bakalov served his sentence in the Zabela prison in Po?arevac.[8]

On March 3, 2009, Veselinov was questioned on suspicion that he testified falsely during trial, lying about the car going through on a green light.[9]

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