BELGRADE, Serbia – Investigators on Thursday questioned a Serbian basketball player who fled the United States after a bar brawl that left a fellow college student hospitalized for months.
Miladin Kovacevic and his parents were quizzed at a Belgrade court in the case against Igor Milosevic, a former Serb deputy consul in New York, who is suspected of providing Kovacevic with emergency travel documents.
Those papers helped Kovacevic, 20, jump bail and flee the U.S. last June after being charged with assault in upstate New York that left a fellow student, 22-year-old Bryan Steinhauer of Brooklyn, severely injured after a fight in a Binghamton bar last May.
Steinhauer only recently emerged from a coma.
The U.S. has been pressing the Serbian government to hand over Kovacevic. The case has strained relations between Washington and Belgrade, which has insisted its laws do not allow extradition.
Kovacevic refused to speak to reporters after the interrogation Thursday, but his mother Branka Kovacevic said the accusations against the Serbian diplomat were "unjust."
"I consider him [Milosevic] an honest man" who "saved my son" by helping him return to Serbia, she said.
Petar Kovacevic, Miladin's father, said he was sorry for Milosevic, who lost his job in the diplomatic service after he was recalled back to the country for a breach of discipline.
The state Tanjug news agency quoted Miladin Kovacevic as saying he was a simple man who wants to go on with his life.
Kovacevic has signed a contract to play for a basketball team in a regional Serbian league. His lawyer has been quoted by Serbian media as saying Kovacevic hoped the move would help him fight depression.