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January 26, 1998

Defense claims 'double jeopardy' in child-abduction case

Dragisa Lazarevich's defense attorney contended at a preliminary hearing last week that local authorities could not prosecute Lazarevich for abducting his children to Serbia in 1989 because it would be double jeopardy.

Lazarevich was tried and convicted by a Serbian court for the 1989 abductions. He was fined the equivalent of $40.

Local prosecutors maintain that double jeopardy rules do not apply in this case. United States courts would not recognize the Serbian conviction under rules of "separate sovereignty," said Assistant District Attorney David Genochio.

Lazarevich was spotted and arrested at UCSC in late December by campus police officer Dale Kahoun. Kahoun had investigated the case in 1989 after Lazarevich picked his two children up from their mother's campus apartment and took them to Serbia. Shayna Lazarevich, Dragisa Lazarevich's ex-wife, is a UCSC senior (See January 12 article).

Held on $1.1 million bail, Dragisa Lazarevich has pled not guilty to charges of child abduction stemming from the 1989 incident and to charges of attempted child abduction related to his recent arrest.

At the preliminary hearing, Kahoun testified that he had searched Lazarevich's Santa Cruz motel room after the arrest and found no luggage. He said that Lazarevich had a single Greyhound bus ticket to San Jose for December 28, and had listed a car on his Santa Cruz motel receipt. Kahoun was unable to find the car.

Judge Michael Barton will consider the double jeopardy issue at a hearing on February 6, according to a report in the Santa Cruz County Sentinel. He is also expected to make a decision that day on whether or not there is enough evidence to hold Lazarevich for trial.

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