Folk star Svetlana Raznatovic on fraud charges avoids jail

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The Independent Online

The flamboyant folk singer Svetlana Raznatovic, better known as Ceca, will spend eight months under house arrest and pay a €1.5m (£1.3m) fine as part of a plea bargain approved by a court in Belgrade yesterday.

Raznatovic, known for her plunging necklines and marriage to a notorious Serb warlord, struck a deal with prosecutors in which she pleaded guilty to embezzlement over the sale of footballers from her late husband's club, FK Obilic Belgrade. In return, the High Court imposed the largest fine in Serb history and sentenced her to a year under house arrest.

However, she will spend only eight months in isolation because she was jailed for four months in 2003 in connection with the assassination of the Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic, after police found weapons at her home.

"Of course," said Raznatovic, when the judge asked her if she felt she was guilty of swindling €4m from player sales when she managed FK Obilic in the early 2000s. She could have faced 15 years in prison if convicted on the original charges.

Ceca gained fame throughout the Balkans in the 1990s with patriotic folk tunes set to a techno beat. She married the nationalist warlord and mafia boss Zeljko "Arkan" Raznatovic and the two became Serbia's most prominent couple after Slobodan Milosevic and his wife. Ceca took over FK Obilic after Arkan was shot dead by a rival gang in 2000.