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South Slavic: April 17, 2003


17 April 2003, Volume 5, Number 10

SERBIA AT THE CROSSROADS -- CRIME AND THE STATE.

Part III.

A program of RFE/RL's Radio Most (Bridge) by Slobodan Kostic (in cooperation with Zoran Glavonjic). The program "Kontrapunkt" talks with Dragan Sutanovac, chairman of the Security Committee of the Serbian parliament, and Dragan Jocic, interior minister in the shadow cabinet created by the Democratic Party of Serbia.

Dragan Jocic: Organized crime has penetrated the entire body of the state. It could not have done so throughout the country if the government had not been at least kindly disposed. I am not saying that the two sides cooperated, but it is obvious now that the authorities did not interfere with the criminals for 2 1/2 years.

The government is acting now -- at least up to a point -- because of the prime minister's murder. But the government failed to act preventively.

RFE/RL: [Let us now return to the matter of the assassination itself....]

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Zarko Korac said that with the murder of Zoran Djindjic, the "Zemun clan" wanted to destabilize the state and provoke chaos throughout the country.

Zarko Korac: At this moment they are undoubtedly the most organized gang in the Balkans, with huge amounts of money, millions of euros, obtained from kidnappings. They had killers, sources of information, and abundant financial means at their disposal. This is truly evil. The group is a genuine gang of drug dealers. I am not saying that there are no other criminal groups in this country, but none of them can be compared with the Zemun clan.

RFE/RL: During the investigation, more than 200 people were brought in, and among them were many members of the Zemun clan. Most of them were held in 30-day custody. Dusan Mihajlovic, the minister of the interior, said that the criminals will not escape justice.

....We also asked the chairman of the parliament's Security Committee, Dragan Sutanovac, about the killing:

Dragan Sutanovac: Obviously the [Zemun clan] was behind the murder of Mr. Djindjic and many other crimes that have recently taken place on our territory. Certain individuals who were brought in applied for the status of protected witnesses, and right now their applications are being processed.

The information they are providing matches up, confirming that the group is undoubtedly behind all these things. The arrests continue, not only in Belgrade, but throughout Serbia. I believe that this is the greatest single blow for justice in the history of the Ministry of the Interior.

RFE/RL: To what extent does Dragan Jocic consider these accusations against the Zemun clan founded?

Jocic: Nobody took any measures against these people before, even though their names and activities were known. What we are dealing with here are actually many groups....

RFE/RL: The government of Serbia imposed a state of emergency on the grounds that the security of the Republic of Serbia and its constitutional order are in danger. What do Jocic and Sutanovac think?

Jocic: [The government had to take stiff measures because no member of the government considered himself safe after the killing....]

We can only hope that this state of emergency will end as soon as possible. It seems to me that the state of emergency was a reaction to the total confusion that was widespread after the murder.

Sutanovac: The government of Serbia and all the citizens of Serbia are interested in having the gangs caught. I think that the state of emergency should last as long as it takes to do the job, at least as far as the police authorities are concerned....

I do not think that catching the criminals should be seen as anybody's political achievement or that some people should try to profit politically from it. All citizens of Serbia should profit; whether they support the opposition or those in power, they will all be more secure once the criminals are behind bars....

Jocic: This is a moment when all political groups should come together, including the opposition. There must be a political consensus throughout society to end the crisis....

RFE/RL: Talking in principle about what is needed to get out of this crisis, the views of Dragan Sutanovac and Dragan Jocic are quite similar:

Sutanovac: We have been living in close proximity to wars for 13 years. A part of our country is not under our jurisdiction. We have very well organized, equipped, and trained gangs.

It will take a lot of time, work, effort, self-discipline, and sacrifice by all the members of the ministry, and the cooperation of the citizens of Serbia....

Jocic: Just as 5 October [2000] was a political watershed, 12 March this year is another turning point for Serbia and Montenegro, leading toward a complete consolidation of the state. The catalyst is tragic, but that is the way it is.

[Unfortunately, political divisions seem to be getting deeper.....] The Democratic Party of Serbia's overtures to the coalition [for a broad-based government] and calls for new elections were not met with understanding by the rest of the DOS.

Sutanovac: ...I see no way to organize a political campaign when prime ministers are being killed. I cannot imagine a political rally or public meeting of any political party at this juncture.

It is an illusion to demand new elections now. Only politically crude, uncivilized people who are uninformed about security issues can advocate such a thing.

RFE/RL: At a time when the political scene is rife with misunderstandings and when molehills are made into mountains, a life tragically ended. The heads of most of the citizens of Serbia are now bowed, but it is obvious that the situation has been made worse by those coming from the wrong side of the law.

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