Hillary $Queezes $erbs: Gov’t To Pay Thug Victim A Cool Mil


news005aOne of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first acts as secretary of State was to broker a $1 million blood-money payout by the Serbian government for the New York victim of a vicious beating, high-ranking sources said, according to an exclusive story in today’s New York Post. Bryan Steinhauer of Brooklyn, who weighs 135 pounds, is to receive $900,000 for being thrashed to a pulp by classmate Miladin Kovacevic, a nearly 300-pound basketball player, during a barroom brawl near Binghamton University last May. The Serbian government will also forfeit the $100,000 it posted as Kovacevic’s bail. Steinhauer, 22, spent months near death in a coma. After being arrested on assault charges, Kovacevic skipped the country with travel documents prepared by Serbian diplomats in New York.The Serbs, who have no extradition treaty with the United States, still refuse to hand over Kovacevic, who has flaunted his freedom and remains unrepentant.

While in the Senate, Clinton ratcheted up the heat on Serbia, demanding the country hand over the 22-year-old fugitive goon to face justice here.

After being named America’s top diplomat, Clinton kept the pressure on, via instructions to the US ambassador to Serbia, Cameron Munter.

But with a US trial looking unlikely, the Steinhauer family pushed for a financial settlement to cover Brian’s medical bills, sources said.

Munter conducted negotiations with Slobodan Homen, Serbia’s state secretary of justice, until the settlement was reached Thursday.

“This was Hillary Clinton’s initiative all the way through,” said a senior government official in Belgrade, who spoke to The Post on condition of anonymity.

The official added that the Serbian government agreed to the Steinhauer family’s demands to maintain good relations with the United States, which provides $50 million in annual aid to the economically ailing Balkan nation.

A State Department spokesman called the settlement “a private matter” between the Serbian government and the Steinhauer family.

“I can tell you that the [US] ambassador in Belgrade was involved, as were very senior officials in Washington,” said Karl Duckworth, a State Department spokesman.

“Serbian officials have assured us that they will continue to pursue this case vigorously. We continue to work with them to return Kovacevic to face justice in New York.”

Homen, reached in Belgrade, denied comment. “What you are asking me about is a highly classified matter for our government,” he said.

In the past, Serbian officials have promised to try Kovacevic in their country. But Gerald Mollen, district attorney of Broome County, where the vicious beating occurred, said Serbian prosecutors have not contacted him for legal paperwork. “As far as we’re concerned, nothing has changed,” Mollen said.

While Brian Steinhauer is out of the hospital, he faces a long rehabilitation and was unsteady on his feet when The Post approached him last month. His family refused to comment on the settlement.

Branka Kovacevic, Miladin’s mother, helped arrange for her son to flee the United States in June. She collapsed in shocked outrage when she learned of the settlement, according to Serbian media reports.

The athlete’s lawyer, Borivoye Borovic, complained: “Neither the Serbian nor the US courts have brought any verdict against Miladin Kovacevic. If Serbia really goes through with this settlement, it seals Kovacevic’s guilt, which has not been proven in any court.”

Serbian media reacted in outrage to the payoff. One paper, Danas, editorialized: “Kovacevic appears to be more important to Serbia than the country’s own impoverished citizens.”

{NY Post/Elisha Ferber-Matzav.com Newscenter}