Nebojsa Zarubac, who was killed with a metal bar by a priest, Branislav Peranovic, the manager of the so called spiritual-rehabilitation center “Sretenje” near Loznica, never really had a chance. God’s servant Branislav Peranovic could freely abuse this ill young man and eventually take him to his house and kill him because the young man was not protected by his government, by the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC), his own family, the family of Branislav Peranovic that participated in this “family business”, civic associations, nor the independent regulatory and control institutions… To put it this way: the blood of Nebojsa Zarubac is on the hands of Patriarch Irinej because, as the head of the church he had done nothing to close down Crna Reka and other spiritual rehabilitation centers operating under the auspices of the church in which drug addicts and mentally ill were beaten and raped; because he did nothing to defrock Peranovic despite him admitting that he and his staff regularly used metal shovels and bars for ” healing” God’s fallen children. The Patriarch and the Synod are defending themselves in the same way they did in the case of abuses in Crna Reka, stating that they acted in accordance with the SOC constitution and statute under which they have no authority to do anything that has not been approved by the responsible bishop. But then again, in which divine and earthly law did the Patriarch read that he can request from the court that it sends the Greek priest Dimitrios Totkasa, who killed two people in a highway collision, to the Nis monastery instead of sending him to jail? Would that be the same monastery that during the 90’s welcomed and protected, as a monk, a man who admitted to committing war crimes against the civilian population?
The blood of Nebojsa Zarubca is on the hands of Lavrentije, the bishop of the Sabac parish, with whose blessing “Sretenje” operated, and who, despite knowing the methods of his priest, decided to relieve him from his clerical duties only yesterday, after the murder – until after the criminal proceedings come to an end. In his statement, Lavrentije said that he has complete confidence in the government institutions. And what institutions is he referring to? The ones run by the former and current Interior Minister Ivica Dacic, whose hands have taken on yet another bloody layer after yesterday’s murder? How did his inspectors gather evidence after the discovery of systematic abuse and rape in Crna Reka, when Peranović simply continued to operate the same family business merely a hundred kilometers away from the original crime scene? The Minister of the Interior and the Patriarch recently signed a Memoradum of Cooperation on a strategy to combat drug abuse and concluded that spiritual rehabilitation centers show an amazing degree of success, with more than 95 percent of the patients cured, with the Minister also stating that in Russia he was able to see for himself how successful the Church has been in saving “our children from this evil.” During the signing of the Memorandum, Dacic said that he was asked by the Patriarch and bishop Porfirije to, as Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, arrest everyone responsible for “Crna Reka”. It is not known what he replied and why he did not grant them their wish as he did the other day when he allowed the Greek Orthodox brother in Christ to find sanctuary in a monastery instead of sending him to prison. Could this be a repayment to Greece and the Greek Church for taking care of Serbian priests suspected of embezzlement, pedophilia, conflict with the Macedonian Orthodox Church…
After everything we saw and heard from clergyman Branislav Peranovic it wasn’t a question whether, but when, he will kill one of his patients. This belief was obviously not shared by the court that has for two years conducted a legal process against this lunatic and for more than a year couldn’t reach a verdict. That court is also an accomplice in the murder of Nebojsa Zarubca as are the former goddesses of Justice, Snezana Malovic and Nata Mesarovic. In their mighty struggle to defend the so called judicial reform and their swelling personal wealth, they failed to, at least occasionally, look into what their judges are doing. And what message did Peranovic take back from the Serbian court that sentenced Nemanja Radosavljevic, his chief assistant in Crna Reka, to two years and five months in prison for the rape and beating of inmates, and Marjan Pavicevic to one year for raping boys in this spiritual-rehabilitation center? The crime of rape is punishable by 3 to 15 years in prison. There is no surprise that the court decided to be gentle with these criminals. It’s not prudent to find yourself on the SOC’s or the current bishop’s black list, especially if you are a judge from Novi Pazar and happen to be a Bosniak, and you see that the state has no intention of implementing what it was obliged to following the disclosure: close down the center, arrest Peranovic and his assistants, and preventively close his other three centers suspected of abusing patients. The judges that have tried Peranovic for two years and took more than a year to reach a verdict, just like their minister and the president of the Supreme Court, also carry Nebojsa’s blood on their hands.
Immediately after the video of the sadistic beating of one of the patients appeared, the Minister of Health Tomica Milosavljevic sent an inspection which found that there are “no elements of fraudulent medical practices” in Crna Reka. Perhaps this rehabilitation center was not in his jurisdiction, but what kind of health minister can so easily leave patients at the mercy of thugs and rapists, not care that semi-literate priests “cure” drug addicts across Serbia, and do nothing to investigate methods of orthodox exorcism? How is it that during the decade long mandate of Minister Milosavljevic so many families decided to choose for their children the shovel-and-iron-bar therapy (“monastic methods” of treatment as it was called by bishop Porfirije) over public health institutions for which he was responsible? To rephrase, again, the blood of Nebojsa Zarubca is on the hands of Tomica Milosavljevic.
Yesterday, from the crime scene in the village Jadarska Lesnica, fled the wife and children of clergyman Peranovic, all of them having taken part in operating the business – the wife as a bookkeeper, sons as councilors, and the daughter mostly horseback riding on the surrounding fields. The torture of patients as well as this murder didn’t take place in the rehabilitation center “Sretenje” located two kilometers away from the Peranovic family home, but rather in a special re-education room in the adjacent yard building. Yesterday the parents of approximately 50 patients evacuated their children in panic. Will someone ask them what motivated them to send their children to a man whose methods of treatment they witnessed on television? How did they manage to persuade their children to go to this house of horrors? Maybe they used the court to strip them of their legal capacity and force them into rehabilitation? Will the new Minister of Justice look at the statistics on the removal of legal capacity in Serbia which shows that someone who the family, justly or unjustly, wants to declare incapacitated, has no opportunity to defend himself and that the court virtually every time adopts the requests of the family members. It seems that Nebojsa Zarubac was one of those who have been deprived of their legal capacity. If one believes the newspaper Telegraf, even after the murder the boy’s father had only kind words for Peranovic and immediately forgave him for killing his child. If you believe Novosti, most residents of Lesnica were surprised by the murder and had only kind words for the priest; the only thing that did bother them was that the rehabilitation center was in their neighborhood and that Peranovic was surrounded by luxury: an expensive house and cars, and a Harley-Davidson. Of course, they had never heard of any abuses in their area because they as good Serbian folk do not meddle in other people’s business, but preferred to look after their own affairs.
Fourty years ago, sociologists introduced the term moral panic to describe society’s fear of some alleged danger publicized through the media and followed by a crusade of politicians, clergy and the conservative press against such phenomena. At one time it was jazz, then rock and roll, drugs, sexual liberation, feminism, AIDS, mad cows, pornography on the internet, cases of violence against children… Today, a moral panic can be created from practically anything, and then be used to make restrictive laws that will ostensibly be more efficient in preserving the traditional, family and other values to which, supposedly, society is dedicated. Our case is different: there is nothing, a crime, either individual or mass, that can provoke a moral panic in the Serbian society today. There is no media that will create a moral panic on which to profit, since they prefer to rely on the assured influx of money from political parties, tycoons and the government, and none of them likes to, except before elections or the Pride Parade, mention traditional family values; because how could they then defend the public love affairs of ministers, drunken parliamentarians, an unprecedented thieving of the entire political class, the criminal past of many generals and politicians, ranging from the state and government heads to the army chief of staff.
While he was alive, no one needed Nebojsa Zarubac except his killer. Even dead he is a nuisance: to the state and the church implicated in his murder, the former ministers who have ignored the case of Crna Reka, and present ministers who only hate gays more than they do junkies, the bikers who once drove to the Crna Reka to support their colleague Peranovic, “Obraz” that celebrated him, the ombudsman who shyly had “taken all measures within his area of authority”, and to NGOs that in the midst of a struggle for a stable Serbia lost sight of Nebojsa Zarubca’s right to live … All prerequisites for a moral panic are there, only there is no one that actually needs it. There is no one left to take on moral crusader campaigns against those who are threatening the existence of the society. Crusaders no longer require it because all they need is already in their hands, the sword and the cross. And a terrified flock.