BELGRADE, Serbia – The man who entered the Serbian president's headquarters with a hand grenade has been disarmed.
President Boris Tadic's press spokeswoman Jasmina Stojanov said Thursday that police disarmed the man who had threatened to blow himself up if his court case was not resolved within the day.
The man, identified by one official as bankrupt businessman Dragan Maric, was seated in a small lobby at a side entrance, surrounded by shielded policemen pointing guns at him while negotiators tried to persuade him to surrender, Belgrade's independent B-92 radio said.
The official said Maric, 57, had announced his plan in an e-mail, saying he would blow himself up if a court did not rule in his favor in an unspecified case by 4 p.m. Thursday. The official refused to be named because she was not entitled to discuss the incident.
After the deadline passed, there was no sound from the building, which is in a park across from the parliament building.
A court spokeswoman said no case connected to Maric was being tried but that he had recently made death threats against court officials.
Many people were still inside the president's headquarters, including office workers. And the president's spokeswoman moved back and forth between the building and reporters.
Police stopped all traffic in the busy downtown area.
Security people in the lobby had taken away one grenade from the man, but he still was holding a second grenade with its pin removed, said Jasmina Stojanov, Tadic's press office spokeswoman.
B-92, quoting unidentified police officials, said the hand grenade taken from him was a real one, not a fake.
Stojanov could not say what the man's motive was.
Maric, once a wealthy businessman, has staged several public hunger strikes since his company went bankrupt in the early 2000s. In 2004, he threatened to burn himself alive, He also offered his kidney for sale that year to get money for living.
"Even death is better than tyranny," the man said in the e-email, according to the unidentified official, who refused to be named because she was not entitled to discuss the incident.
The Belgrade Trade Court, which deals with financial cases is not trying any case connected with Maric, spokeswoman Marina Ivanovic said. But Maric recently made several death treats against the court officials, she said.
The incident follows U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit Wednesday to Belgrade, which nationalists opposed. The United States recognized Kosovo's declared independence from Serbia last year, a change Serbia has vowed never to accept.