EXCLUSIVE IN KULA, SERBIA, BY ISABEL VINCENT STAFF FOR THE NEW YORK POST. June 27 2008.
KULA, Serbia - The wealthy parents of a hulking Serbian basketball player charged with viciously beating a Brooklyn student admitted they helped their son become an international fugitive by whisking him out of the country and back home because he had become a "scapegoat."
In the an exclusive interview with The Post, Miladin Kovacevic's psychiatrist mother, Branka, said she urged her 6-foot-9, 260 pound son to flee US authorities after he was bailed out "because it had become a media circus where his voice was not being heard."
His 6-foot-5 father, Peter Kovacevic, an orthopedic surgeon, said, "We feel he is a victim of small-town values ganging up against a foreigner. He was targeted because he was Serb and a very large man."
"He's a gentle guy and he was happy to go to America," his 6-foot-1 mother said. "He was on a full scholarship. He was scouted in Serbia to play basketball."
Speaking from their sprawling ranch house 1½ hours north of Belgrade, they were unsure about whether their son would return to face the music.
He might be "willing to return to the states to face the law" when the media circus - which they helped create - subsides.
They said Kovacevic, 20, is in the country but has gone into hiding because Serbian reporters have been camped outside their home.
"The authorities are not looking for him. He is not staying at home because it is a media circus here," Branka Kovacevic said.
Kovacevic was charged with pounding 130-pound Binghamton University student Bryan Steinhauer into a coma.
Steinhauer, 22, of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, was the victim of a vicious beating at a popular college bar on May 4.
Kovacevic's mother said she flew to Binghamton to be with her son while he was held on $100,000 bail. She said she lost close to 50 pounds because she was so worried.
They said they were proud that their son had gained entrance to an American university.
"We would have been happy if he had accepted American values and if after he had finished university he wanted to stay there," she said.
"We are sad that [Steinhauer] is hurt and we pray that he will get better and live his life to the best," she added.
Kovacevic was sprung loose from an upstate jail on June 6 when his parents sent the $100,000 to a deputy consul at the Serbian consulate in New York so he could post bail.
Serbian Deputy Consul Igor Milosevic, who is currently on the lam, is believed by US authorities to have then furnished Kovacevic with an emergency passport. That document replaced the one Kovacevic had surrendered to Broome County authorities enabling him to leave on a June 8 flight to Germany from Newark.