After school shooting, Serbian president wants to reduce prosecution age to 12

Police block streets around the Vladislav Ribnikar school in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, May 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
By Dénes Albert
4 Min Read

In the wake of Serbia’s worst-ever public shooting, President Aleksandar Vučić proposed on Wednesday to lower the criminal prosecution age from 14 to 12 years.

As Remix News reported, a 14-year-old boy was arrested for a shooting at a school in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on Wednesday morning that left at least nine dead and several more seriously injured. Police were dispatched to the Vladislav Ribnikar general school in central Belgrade shortly after 8:40 a.m. amid reports of a mass shooting by a student.

The boy will turn 14 at the end of July, and under Serbian law, only those over 14 can be punished for the most serious crimes.

According to Belgrade Police Chief Veselin Milic, the seventh-grade boy fired his father’s gun at students, teachers and school security staff shortly after school started. The boy was arrested by the police. According to the information, he had been planning the attack for at least a month and had brought a small pistol, four Molotov cocktails and three loaded magazines to the school on Wednesday, in addition to the 9 mm gun.

The teen was found to have a list of the names of the students he planned to shoot and a sketch of the school’s layout and classrooms. The investigation also revealed that the student had chosen Wednesday as the day to commit the crime because his class had its first history lesson that day and the history classroom was closest to the school entrance. After the shooting, the boy himself called the police, introduced himself and said that he had killed some people at the school.

Vučić also said at the press conference that the shooter was not a target of abuse, but had few friends and had recently enrolled in another class at the school, where he was also not accepted. The Serbian president said the shooter’s plans showed that he was playing some kind of computer game where everyone has more than one life. According to media reports, the teen also seems to show no remorse and believes that he is now a hero in the eyes of some on social media.

“The boy who was mocked has become a hero,” the Serbian head of state said, outlining the teen’s supposed line of thought.

The teen’s father told police he had several guns that all had licenses and kept them in a safe with a combination lock. He did not know that his son also knew the combination. According to the police, the juvenile offender and his father often went to shooting ranges to practice.

Serbia’s president questioned how a minor could go to a shooting range, how his father could take him and how it was possible that no one had forbidden him to enter. The head of state said it could not be ruled out that the juvenile offender knew he could not be held criminally responsible.

Due to the South Slavic wars in the 1990s, many weapons were left in the hands of the civilian population, with an average of 39.1 firearms per 100 inhabitants in Serbia, the highest ratio in Europe alongside neighboring Montenegro. According to the Serbian president, there are 766,000 legal weapons in Serbia, a country of 6.65 million people.

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