Stepfather who killed 2-year-old offers plea bargain for lesser sentence; Prosecution seeks 40 years
The toddler, Luna, had multiple head injuries and an upper arm fracture
A lawyer representing 25-year-old Zoran Albic from Prahovo - who is accused of killing two-and-a-half-year-old Luna Firulovic, the daughter of his partner Vesna, in May of last year - has filed for a plea bargain with the Higher Public Prosecutor's Office in Negotin.
For that reason, a judge of the Higher Court yesterday postponed a preliminary hearing, in order to allow the Prosecutor's Office to state whether it will accept the agreement.
According to the daily Novosti, the lawyer, Radisa Srejic, did not dispute the qualification of the crime, but also did not present a proposal on how long his client should spend in prison, under the deal.
"The legal qualification is not called into question, it is not disputed that this was aggravated murder for which a sentence of 10 to 40 years in prison is envisaged, the defendant did not dispute that he beat little Luna to death, the only issue left is the prison sentence that would be imposed on him," says Maja Atanaskovic, a legal representative of the Tijana Juric Foundation, who also represents the child's father, Dragan Puric.
The Tijana Juric Foundation, but also the Higher Public Prosecutor's Office in Negotin, state that the only adequate sentence for this offense is 40 years in prison.
"I consider this to be one of the most serious crimes that has happened in recent years. We will do our best to make sure this man receives the maximum possible punishment. Unfortunately, he is being tried under the old law, and if he were tried under the new, I'm sure he would be the first to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. I think the judiciary in this case is facing a big test, that it has to show strength, courage and determination to make sure we let these people know that there will be no forgiveness," says Igor Juric.
Little Luna's father, Dragan Puric, who attended the preparatory hearing on Wednesday, said the only possible sentence for Zoran Albic is the maximum one.
"Nothing can bring back my Luna, but at least I hope this will prevent someone else from doing the same, just as I think he will repeat the offense if he gets a chance," says Dragan Puric.
The father of the girl - who was killed in cold blood by Albic, angry that the child was crying when he came home during the night, after partying - says he had mixed feelings when he saw the defendant in the courtroom:
"Looking at him like that, from the back, I felt rage, a flow of adrenaline, anger, everything gathered in me in a few seconds. I don't understand what Vesna saw in him, what she was afraid of, not to prevent him from killing our child."
Vesna Firulovic, the mother of the victim - who initially claimed that Luna fell off an unsecured balcony and even helped Zoran - in October last year entered a plea bargain with the Higher Public Prosecutor's Office in Negotin to receive eight years in prison. This is the maximum sentence for the criminal offense of failing to assist a helpless person. She has been under house arrest in her parents' home, ahead of being sent to prison.
An autopsy, conducted by experts at the Nis Institute of Forensic Medicine, dismissed the possibility that the toddler had fallen from an unsafe balcony in 30 Septembra Street in Prahovo, where she lived for a month and a half with her mother and Zoran. The child had multiple injuries to the head and an upper arm fracture.
Video: Who is the Barber of Malca whose crimes terrorize the Timok District?