US Embassy Regrets Employee's Involvement In Serbia Crash
BELGRADE (AP)--The U.S. Embassy in Belgrade expressed regret Thursday that one of its employees was involved in a traffic accident with President Boris Tadic's motorcade that was initially mistaken by government officials for an assassination attempt.
The incident Tuesday was initially described by the president's office as an apparent attempt on his life because of his pro-Western policies.
But Serbia's Interior Minister Dragan Jocic announced late Wednesday that the president's motorcade had in fact been involved in a traffic accident with a car driven by a Serb security guard employed by the U.S. Embassy.
"As soon as we realized that our worker was involved in the case, we informed the police," the embassy said in a statement Thursday. "We regret what happened. Our employee is cooperating fully."
The embassy guard, identified as Miroslav Cimpl, swerved his car into the column of cars carrying the Serbian president because he was "irritated" by their blocking of a key traffic artery in the capital, Jocic said.
He was cut off by a vehicle from Tadic's security team and fled the scene in Belgrade's wealthy Dedinje district, the president's office said.
Several Belgrade newspapers criticized the police for reacting slowly and only making the incident public 15 hours after it took place.
Tadic is distrusted by nationalists who oppose his pro-Western policies and calls for Serb war crimes suspects to be arrested and extradited.
Serbia's pro-Western Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was assassinated in March 2003 in front of his downtown Belgrade office in a sniper attack.
December 02, 2004 06:57 ET (11:57 GMT)- - 06 57 AM EST 12-02-04