Photo: Predrag Trokicić
Photo: Predrag Trokicić

We are once again setting new dark records. In 2023, in Serbia, 26 minors aged 14 to 17 killed someone. And this is without counting the mass murder at Vladislav Ribnikar elementary school.  Every day we warn about the number of murdered women, while our children are being shot with air rifles. Aggressive outbursts on the street over banal things have become an integral part of life.

Do the ruling elites, as decision-makers and creators of the dominant climate in society, never fear for themselves and their loved ones? How are they not afraid that a fight in a cafe or a shooting at a school or on the street would also affect their child? And even if they sent their older children abroad to be safe, they still have family and friends that they care about, they have someone they love. Do they really think that expensive suits, cars and hundreds of apartments can protect and save them from unpredictable violence?

When a child kills other children, they don’t first ask about the political orientation of those children’s parents, whether they belong to a party (and which one) or if they just catatonically repeat that they are not interested in politics.

When did the mighty politicians, blinded by arrogance and self-satisfaction, start thinking that they were protected from evil, including the evil they spread?

The other day, my younger daughter told me that her friends, celebrating the end of middle school, wanted to make T-shirts saying: “We don’t care about your Škodas, we have Lamborghinis.” I told her that I didn’t understand that message, and she explained to me: “Well, you know, mom, the police drive Škodas, and they can’t catch Panić in those Škodas.” I immediately followed up with logorrheic hissing: so who do you identify with, who do you root for and why, for kids with no education who drive cars that hardly anyone can afford, you yourself and me, we both take the bus and they race around the city in Lamborghinis, do you know who their father is- She immediately interrupted by saying: I know mom, I told them all the same thing.

That boomerang that came back to us with idols similar to those from the wartime nineties reminded me of something. Petar Panić (father of the famous brothers), then Sešelj’s bodyguard, was setting up kiosks around Zemun. When he dug the foundations for another one, at the corner of Šilerova and Ugrinovačka streets in Zemun, right in front of our family friend’s house, my dad came over to help bury the foundations. At one point, they heard a screeching tire and Petar Panić ran out of an expensive car and, without a word, smacked M.B. in the head with his gun, cutting him.

Since my father was the only eyewitness to the event, soon a DB employee casually approached him and the victim on the street with the suggestion that everyone should calm down, that they solve their own problems internally, that people who work for DB have been in prison for over 300 years combined and that there is nothing they are not ready to do… Proceedings were conducted before the former Fourth Municipal Court, the defendant Petar Panić suddenly became ill and did not come to the trial, which was endlessly postponed, and at one point Mile “Kum” Luković (from the Zemun Clan), appeared as a witness for the defense. My father consistently repeated what he saw that day, in a courtroom full of musclebound and tattooed observers, but the case did not get any kind of official epilogue.

The fathers of the leaders of the Zemun clan (Spasojević and Luković) publicly renounced their sons. Spasojević’s father, they say, cursed his son on his deathbed, telling him not to come to his grave, while Luković’s father killed himself out of shame. It seems that the children of the surviving “heroes” of the nineties have now, 30 years later, become the idols of new generations. The Panić brothers have nice cars, a lot of followers on social media, they post pictures from their nights out, and it is less important or completely unimportant who they really are and what their parents did. And it seems that the least important thing of all is that they are currently being prosecuted for human trafficking.

Our parents did not deal with the demons of the nineties, and we have long since let the demons of today grow and become stronger. It seems we will have to pay the price twice over, because we failed to learn anything the first time around.

The author is a public prosecutor at the Higher Public Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade

Pešč, 11.06.2024.