Mafia hostages

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MONITOR Weekly, 5 November 2010
Mafia hostages

That's how it is when the mafia has a country. After months of delay and upon pressure, the government signs an agreement on extradition of its nationals, and the key associates of the major drug boss Darko Saric - escape1 Goran Sokovic from Pljevlja, second ranked suspect for smuggling several tons of cocaine, disappeared like a swallow tail along with a few friends, among whom was Drasko Vukovic from Berane2. And that, just as all conditions have been formally met so that our authorities could extradite them to Belgrade, where they are being tried.

Serbian Minister of Justice Snezana Malovic said that Vukovic was notified immediately after the signing of agreements on extradition that the arrests began. Who could have advised Vukovic, if the agreement was signed in secret, in order to surprise and arrest the suspects easier?

Let us not lie ourselves, the key members of Saric's group could not escape, if the state is not their shielder.

They must have been under supervision by the Montenegrin police, ever since they were indicted in Serbia late last year. The key suspect, Darko Saric, also mysteriously disappeared as soon as Belgrade issued an international arrest warrant against him.

While Europe was shaking from arrests, in Montenegro the drug clan has remained intact. Not only that, this group did business directly with the government, participated in the tenders, built in Pljevlja and befriended its Mayor. Our Prime Minister3 publicly defended the right of Darko Saric to obtain the Montenegrin passport. Sokovic owned in 'Pobjeda'4 the newspaper of trust according to Milo Djukanovic, the largest shareholding stake after the state. Now, the leader is angry because his country holds the honorary 104th position on the 'Reporters Without Boundaries' 2010 ranking list of media freedoms.

As in Colombia from the dark years that Gabriel Garcia Marquez turned into novels, over here one cannot draw the difference between mafia and the state. How could one do it, when both state and mafia live from obscure deals. The Parliament of Ranko Krivokapic5 has obstructed for eight months the discussion on the failure of Montenegrin police to arrest Saric and friends. Montenegrin prosecutors have not even initiated proceedings against these groups. But the courts are swamped with cases against the private media who write about crime.

In Croatia, the group that murdered Ivo Pukanic and Niko Franjic was sentenced to a total one hundred and fifty years of prison6. According to Ratko Knezevic7 one of the witnesses, the solicitor of the murder is the Montenegrin tobacco mafia about which Pukanic wrote. 'It is possible that the motive for the murder of Ivo Pukanic was his writing, but this has not been established' "said Judge Ivana Kršul, noting that the solicitor was a powerful person who has paid 1.5 million euro for the murder.

Croatian Interior Minister Tomislav Karamarko said that it is expected of the process in Serbia to determine the motives and the solicitors. According to information published in multiple media, Joca Amsterdam is ready to speak in Belgrade8 although he earlier rejected any connection with the Pukanic case. The court in Zagreb, however, concluded that his best-man, Slobodan Djurovic Cardinal from Bar organized and funded the group that killed Pukanic.

Montenegrin state prosecutor announced several months ago that she will interrogate Ratko Knezevic in connection with his claims. Nothing happened since.

In Bari last week, a mafia group was sentenced for smuggling cigarettes through Montenegro. The head of the group was Francesco Prudentino, who operated here in the nineties. Prudentino and his mobsters were under the protection of our leadership.

I am satisfied – said prosecutor Giuseppe Scelsi after the verdict. Scelsi previously depicted Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic as the top leader of the tobacco mafia pyramid9. Not a single case has been initiated by Montenegrin judiciary against any of the suspects from the Scelsi's list10.

In Italy, they are suspected of association with mafia, over here – they are prominent politicians, businessmen and diplomats. Ivo Pukanic, among others, testified in Bari on Djukanovic's ties with mafia.

Indifference of the Montenegrin judiciary and police in face of all this cannot but freeze your blood. But where the order is based on mafia deals and where the top leadership jitters from Joca Amsterdam and his testimony, there can be no rule of law. Simply, in Djukanovic's Montenegro, the police, the judiciary and the state are just – hostages of the mafia.

Milka Tadic Mijovic

1 Darko Saric, alleged boss of international narcotic drug cartel accused of smuggling 2.5 tonnes of cocaine
2 Goran Sokovic and Drasko Vukovic are Montenegrins, while Darko Saric is a Serbian national born in Montenegro
3 Milo Djukanovic has been Prime Minister or President of Montenegro since 1991
4 Pobjeda is a majority state owned and subsidised daily, governed and managed by ruling DPS party officials
5 Ranko Krivokapic, Parliament Speaker and Chairman of the junior coalition Social Democratic Party
6 Ivo Pukanic and Niko Franjic, owner and marketing director of Croatian weekly Nacional
7 Ratko Knezevic, former Montenegrin diplomat and Prime Minister's best man
8 On-going court process in Belgrade against Sreten Jocic (Joca Amsterdam), alleged organiser of Pukanic's murder
9 The case against Mr Djukanovic has been archived in the meantime because of his diplomatic immunity
10 A group of well known Montenegrin public figures and close friends of Prime Minister Djukanovic


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