Serbian student in Binghamton beating may have fled with government help
Updated Wednesday, June 25th 2008, 2:04 AM
An international manhunt is on for a hulking Serbian athlete who viciously beat a Brooklyn college student and fled the country - possibly with his government's help, authorities said.
A Serbian official is believed to have posted his $100,000 bail upstate and Kovacevic used an emergency passport to leave the country, prompting a separate probe by the State Department.
Steinhauer, 22, an honors student set to work this summer for a prestigious accounting firm, suffered massive head injuries in the attack and is still clinging to life in a medically induced coma.
"I'm devastated," his father, Richard, told the Daily News outside of his Fort Greene home on Tuesday. "He's my only son."
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged federal authorities to make capturing and extraditing Kovacevic a top priority.
Steinhauer's nightmare began in the early morning hours of May 4, when he got into an argument with three men, including Kovacevic, at a packed bar near the state school, cops said.
"Kovacevic ... proceeded to beat the crap out of him," said Binghamton Police Capt. Alex Minor, noting Steinhauer suffered a fractured skull and broken jaw and eye sockets.
"They kicked him when he was down, the whole nine yards," Minor added.
The giant Serb and his two pals fled after the horrific assault, he said.
Kovacevic was arrested the following day and the two other accused attackers, Edin Dzubur, 24, and Santel Softic, 21, were hauled in soon after.
Kovacevic's bail was set at $100,000.
On June 6, Igor Milosevic, the Serbian vice consul, posted $20,000 in cash and $80,000 in a bank money order in Broome County Court to spring Kovacevic, a bail receipt obtained by the upstate Press & Sun-Bulletin newspaper shows.
Kovacevic, who faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted, surrendered his passport and was freed from jail later that day.
Reached Tuesday, a Serbian Consulate representative said Milosevic was out of town and that no one else could comment on the case.
Broome County officials contacted Customs agents on the Canadian border on June 10, fearful that Kovacevic might try to flee the country.
Milosevic's attorney, Vincent Accardi, declined to comment on the whereabouts of his client or the status of the case.
The tragedy has left Steinhauer's father numb.
"I'm surprised they gave [Kovacevic] bail," Richard Steinhauer said. "It's hard to believe this is happening."
With Veronika Belenkaya and Edgar Sandoval