The fake cosmetic surgeon dubbed the ‘Barbie Doctor’ – who is accused of mutilating at least 11 people in botched operations – has been released on house arrest as her trial gets underway.
Olgica Markanovic and her associate, who has been named only as Jasmina T. due to strict local privacy laws, are facing charges including undertaking unauthorised aesthetic procedures without a licence.
Markanovic was arrested on the Serb-Croat border on 1st June after she allegedly carried out operations on at least 11 people, leaving them with a number of different scars and injuries.
This is the second attempt by prosecutors to start the trial after the first one was postponed due to the absence of Jasmina T. due to her pregnancy.
Prosecutors have requested a three-year prison sentence for Markanovic and a one-year prison sentence for her associate.
Markanovic allegedly carried out illegal and unlicensed cosmetic procedures on at least 11 people from May 2020 to March this year.
She allegedly used a ‘plasma pen’ on her patients causing permanent damage to their faces in the form of second- and third-degree burns, according to the news site Telegraf.
The pair also allegedly used the drug lidocaine chloride as a local anaesthetic and this is said to have endangered the lives of the people they were operating on as it could have caused an allergic reaction that in some cases can result in death.
Markanovic has denied that she engaged in medical procedures without a proper licence.
She defended herself, claiming that the services she was providing to her patients were cosmetic and that she never presented herself as an expert in the field of medicine, according to Telegraf.
She reportedly said that the plasma pen was not a medical instrument but a cosmetic one and that she had a certificate to use the device, adding that any injuries suffered by patients were down to their failure to comply with strict instructions for adequate recovery, such as avoiding tanning beds or exposing their skin to sunlight.
A group of at least 11 men and women filed a complaint in March 2021 against the suspect claiming that they had been disfigured after she treated them at her salon in the Serbian capital Belgrade.
One male victim, name not disclosed, told Croatian media outlet Blic: “When I met her she introduced herself as the ‘President of Aesthetics’.”
He added: “She then introduced herself to my girlfriend as a qualified doctor.”
Another victim, who was also not named, told the Croatian news site Jutarnji that she went to the suspect’s salon to have her nose and eyebrows raised but was instead left with burns all over her face.
She added that for seven days she could barely open her eyes, and for several months simple tasks such as eating and drinking became agonising due to the scars on her face.
Although 11 lawsuits have been filed against the suspect, she is rumoured to have treated over 20 people, all of whom suffered some sort of medical injury.
As the trial now gets underway, the First Basic Court in Belgrade has released Markanovic from custody at a preventive detention centre and allowed to her to return home on conditions.
During her house arrest, Markanovic is not allowed to use the internet, she is banned from visiting other people other than her mother and sister, and only her young son can be in the apartment with her, according to local reports.
Additionally, she can only leave the apartment in the case of necessary emergency medical care.
The court also issued a warning to her that if she violates any of the above measures, the previous detention measure would be reinstated.
The next hearing is scheduled for 17th December when the defendant’s associate Jasmina T. is also expected to appear.