07/10/2007versione stampabileprintinvia paginasend



Prosecutors in Bari prepare trial against former Montenegro prime minister Djukanovic for mafia affiliations
From Observatory on the Balkans
 
Last 22 June, Italian news agency ANSA reported that the District Anti-Mafia Department in Bari (DDA) is preparing a trial against the former president and former prime minister of the Republic of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic, accused of mafia affiliations aimed at international cigarette smuggling.
 
l'ex premier montenegrino milo djukanovicTime is running out for the initial investigation. The prosecutors of the DDA in Bari, Eugenia Pontassuglia and Giuseppe Sclesi, notified to Djukanovic, to the deputy prime minister Miroslav Ivanisevic and to 13 more people the completion of the initial investigation for charges stretching from 1994 to 2002. The defendants have 20 days to request a hearing or to present their defense – after this time they will be tried. Djukanovic is accused of providing Swiss citizen Franco Della Torre, already on trial for another case, with the license to import in Montenegro one thousand tons a month of cigarettes, which were later taken to Italy through smuggling. According to the DDA in Bari, the money laundry was guaranteed by Serbian businessman Stanko Subotic, also known as Cane. According to the prosecutors, Subotic transferred the money from Switzerland to Montenegro and then to Cyprus on board of three planes, one of which was bought thanks to the “transit tax” imposed in those years by Montenegrin government to smugglers. The money was put into a Bank of Cyprus account and used to make payments and investments. Later, it was transferred to banks in Lichtenstein.
 
un sequestro di sigarette di contrabbandoThe cigarette business. The DDA in Bari also accuses Djukanovic of facilitating the illegal traffic of cigarettes through the public company “Zetatrans”; of making sure, through the Montenegrin police chiefs, that the smugglers’ speedboats would dock in Zelenika and Bar, and of protecting Italian criminals at large who were seeking refuge in Montenegro. Among those whose name has come up during the investigation there is also Dusanka Pesic Jeknic, at the time commercial representative of Montenegro in Italy. Pesic is accused of being the contact between Apulian mafia and the heads of the Montenegrin government.
 
The investigation, which started in 1999, has allegedly uncovered evidence of a pact between Montenegrin mafia and Apulian mafia to control and manage illicit traffics. According to the DDA in Bari, the pact was signed by Italian mafia men and Andrija Draskovic, considered by the prosecutors a high-rank mafia man in the former Yugoslavia (he was arrested last March in Frankfurt and extradited to Italy). According to the prosecutors, the alleged boss of the Balkans Andrija Draskovic supposedly protected Apulian criminals at large who seek refuge in Montenegro, in exchange for the monopoly heroin and cocaine supply by Apulian and Sicilian mafia. In Montenegro, however, these allegations have been denied.
 
veduta della magnifica città di bariPolitics wonders. According to a report, on June 26, by radio station B92, the spokesman of Montenegrin social democratic party Rajko Kovacevic has declared that the alleged accusations against present Montenegrin social democratic party and former prime minister Milo Djukanovic are unfounded. “There has been no international smuggling business in Montenegro. There has only been cigarette transit, according to Montenegro laws, which was taking place already before the social democratic party came to power”, the spokesman of the social democratic party stressed. Kovacevic also added that the accusations against Djukanovic have been “known for quite some time” and represent “a politically driven story.” Montenegrin heads maintain that the investigations on the alleged cigarette smuggling in Montenegro are mere speculations, made up by forces inside and outside Montenegro to discredit former prime minister Milo Djukanovic. The accusations are considered allegations, which trace back to the time when Djukanovic took distance from Serbia’s political agenda, and which are aimed at destabilizing Montenegro, discredit its politics and its, at that time, president Djukanovic, who was in favor of Montenegro’s independence.
Milo Djukanovic’s lawyer Enrico Tuccillo, said to the newspaper “Danas” that the DDA in Bari has completed the preliminary investigations against the former prime minister and his closest assistants. Tuccillo explained that he needs to study the documents before deciding what step to take. Djukanovic’s lawyer has also stressed that it is too early to say whether Djukanovic will appear or not in court.
 
dimostranti festeggiano l'indipendenza del montenegro dalla serbiaThe future of Montenegro. In an interview published on the newspaper “Vijesti” on 28 June, Montenegrin foreign affairs minister Milan Rocen declared that the announcement of a possible trial against the former prime minister is a good reason for “the Montenegrin public prosecutor to study the case so to end to the matter.” “I think that the time has come for Montenegro to stop being passive,” Rocen declared. The minister also added: “I think it is the same manuscript, the same story told several times, but that doesn’t find any support in the public opinion, contrary to what those who spread such news aim at. It is a farce that has gone on year after year. It has always happened in crucial times in Montenegro. At this time, we are in the process of adopting a new constitution.” In Montenegro, the news coming from Italy regarding the completion of the preliminary investigation on the possible trial of former prime minister Milo Djukanovic and his closest assistants has become breaking news. Montenegro media have gone crazy and almost all journalists have tried to contact Djukanovic. Unsuccessfully, for the moment.
 
Jadranka Gilic