Serbian Priest Kills Drug Addict

Author: Bojana Barlovac, Balkan Insight
Date Published: 08/07/2012
Publication: Eurasia Review

A Serbian Orthodox Church priest has killed a man at a rehab centre, reviving memories of brutal beatings at a church run addiction treatment centre in the country.

Priest Branislav Peranovic, former manager of the notorious rehab centre of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Crna Reka, killed a drug addict at the church-run rehabilitation centre Jadranska Lesnica, in Eastern Serbia, on Monday night by hitting him in the head with a bar.

Peranovic has been arrested and detained in the town of Sabac for 48 hours.

The judge in charge of the case, Slobodan Velisavljevic, said that the body was found in a nearby house which is owned by Peranovic.

“The autopsy is ongoing, and today we will determine whether the death was due to injuries inflicted by a blunt object in the head or something else,” Velisavljevic told reporters.

The Diocese of Sabac, which owns the Jadranska Lesnica complex, expressed sorrow over the incident and said that they are monitoring the investigation.

“As soon as relevant data and facts are established, the church court of the Diocese of Sabac will take measures within its jurisdiction,” the Diocese said.

Peranovic came under a spotlight in 2009 when TV footage revealed the brutal methods he used to treat drug addicts in the church-run camp at Crna Reka.

The recording showed patients being assaulted with shovels and punched in the face.

The Serbian Orthodox Church condemned his behaviour at the time. The then bishop in charge of the Raska Diocese dismissed Peranovic from his managerial post and closed the rehab centre at the Crna Reka monastery.

Peranovic was taken to court and the verdict is still pending.

In the meantime, Peranovic voluntarily left the monastery of Crna Reka and in 2010 became the head of the Jadranska Lesnica centre for addiction treatment.

In June 2011, the Serbian Health Ministry and the Serbian Orthodox Church signed an agreement on treating drug addicts.

In the agreement, the Church pledged to continue implementing a programme called “Zemlja Zivih” – “Land of the living”. This therapeutic programme, running since 2005, comprises seven centres, which, according to the church, are treating some 20 to 30 addicts at any given moment.