Belgrade – By Milos Mitrovic
Five Serbian citizens that had been captured by Libyan rebels in August 2011 came back to Serbia on Tuesday. Libyan rebels accused them of collaborating with Colonel Moammar Gaddafi, who was on power at the moment of their capturing. Serbian Deputy PM Aleksandar Vucic welcomed Zoran Nikolic, Nedeljko Milanovic, Milorad Djunic, Milic Martinovic and Vojislav Niciforovic at the headquarters of the Security Informative Agency (SIA).
The SIA took part in negotiations with Libyan authorities on their release. “This was the job for both our Government and security services. We were hoping that our nationals would be released swiftly. However, the negotiations were very tough”, Aleksandar Vucic told reporters.
At the moment of capturing Serbian citizens claimed that they were working for the “Zazura”, Serbian-Libyan Construction Company.
“The biggest problem was that we had not known our punishment. We didn’t want to be released by force. We wanted to prove that we were not mercenaries or snipers. We wanted to prove that we were not interested in any kind of war”, Zoran Nikolic said for Blic daily.
Nikolic said that he had been very worried about his family while being at the detention. The most terrifying thing for all Serbian prisoners was the uncertainty, he added.
“In the beginning it was really scary. There was the war; we could hear the bursts and explosions from everywhere. We were sharing our cell with the foreigners. The cultural and religious differences among us were enormous. However, as the time was passing we were receiving better treatment. Some of the Libyans, which were also imprisoned, helped us”, Nikolic said. He added that he had felt as a reborn person after the release.
“We came to Libya to find the job, but we were accused of the war engagement. I am electrician, but all of us were engaged in construction works”, Milic Martinovic said. He added that Serbian prisoners had been treated well. Martinovic said that he was thankful to Libya and its judiciary because they had been released.
On the other hand, Serbian NGO Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS) finds that it was indicative that the alleged construction workers had arrived in Libya to repair roads amid war. The CEAS claimed there had been indications that Serbian nationals had been sent to Libya as recruits of the Avax, a company for physical/technical security.