'Rent a convict' bust in Serbia

2012-04-19 15:01
Belgrade - Police "exposed a new business in Serbia" when they arrested a man who had served a prison sentence for another man in return for payment, the daily Press newspaper reported on Thursday.

Police in Smederevo, 30km east of Belgrade, confirmed that they were holding a man who accepted €2 000 and a forged identity card to serve time instead of another man, who had been given a six-month sentence for fraud, Press said.

The switch occurred in a minimum-security facility that allows inmates to go home at weekends. The suspect was only caught because he boasted about it, Press reported.

The "rent-a-convict" now faces several charges, including the use of forged documents. It was not immediately clear what happened to the man who paid him.

Serbia introduced biometric identity cards several years ago but the forgery of documents has continued with counterfeiters purchasing the same equipment as authorities, Press said.

A fake identity card costs between €5,000 and €200 000, depending on who is asking for it, the newspaper said, quoting criminologist Miodrag Nikolic.

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