BIRN: "A well-organized group in the government" legalized a billion-euro crime in Serbia

Photo: BIRN / printscreen

In the past seven years, 450.000 square meters of residential buildings have been legalized in Serbia, which were partially or completely built without a permit, which is at least 300 buildings, and according to a rough calculation, the current value of those buildings exceeds one billion euros.

New research by the Balkan Investigative Journalism Network (BIRN), showed that during that period residential buildings were legalized that did not exist or were not completed in 2015, although this is contrary to the provisions of the Law on Legalization that was passed that year.

That Law was supposed to solve the issue of illegal construction, and only buildings that were under roof until that moment could be legalized. Obviously, this was not the case, because even after that deadline, some other unfinished buildings, despite this law, were still legalized. BIRN journalists searched the map of the city and linked the data from the satellite image with the data from the Cadastre and the Register of Building Approvals of the Agency for Economic Registers.

All this, as the author of the article "Belgrade - a paradise for wild constructions and dubious legislation", Radmilo Marković, told "Danas", was done because the Secretariat for Legal Affairs did not publish data on buildings that were legalized, even though it had a legal obligation to do so to do so.

"The secretariat for legalization should have published a list of legalized buildings, that it has addresses and marked plots, number of floors, number of solutions. Some municipalities did that, but the Secretariat did not do that," Marković points out.

He says that from 2019, legalization of up to 400 square meters could function in the central municipalities, but they too did not have published lists, and the only Belgrade municipality that had a published list of legalized buildings is Mladenovac. During the six-month research, they managed to find 300 facilities that were legalized in violation of the 2015 Law, and most of the cases were in Zvezdara, but also in Voždovac, Zemun, New Belgrade, Palilula. Marković says that BIRN will publish the continuation of this story, among other things, who are the owners of wildly legalized facilities, and for now there is no reaction from the competent institutions and individuals who were in responsible positions in the Ministry of Construction and above all the City of Belgrade, i.e. the Secretariat that deals with it.

The former Minister of Construction Zorana Mihajlovi. he says for "Danas" that the Law on Legalization of Buildings was adopted with great efforts and that the responsibility of the local self-government units is in the first place.

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