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Serbia court sentences drug lord to 15 years in prison

A view of an empty room of the Organized Crime court prior to the sentencing of Darko Saric leader of a criminal organization, in Belgrade, Serbia, Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. A Serbian court has sentenced a Balkan drug lord to 15 years in prison for smuggling 5.7 tons of cocaine from South America to Europe. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — A Serbian court on Monday sentenced a Balkan drug lord to 15 years in prison for smuggling 5.7 tons of cocaine from South America to Europe.

The Organized Crime court ruled that Darko Saric was guilty of leading a criminal organization that smuggled cocaine from Colombia, Argentina and Uruguay to Western Europe in 2008 and 2009.

Saric, 49, was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years in prison but that verdict was overturned and a new trial was held. Saric has maintained he is innocent.

Saric’s lawyer Radoslav Bacovic said he will appeal the verdict again, insisting the court has not reviewed most of the complaints related to the original conviction.

“The impression is that the court simply copied the prosecutor’s indictment,” Bacovic said.

The court also sentenced Saric’s gang members to terms ranging from several months to 15 years. The state Serbian TV said that altogether the group received nearly 300 years in prison.

Saric and his group are also being tried separately for laundering 22 million euros ($25 million) of drug money.

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