Accessibility links

Breaking News

Serbian Pop Diva Investigated Over Soccer Transfers

Serbian folk star Svetlana "Ceca" Raznatovic (far left) campaigns for Bosnian Serb nationalist leader Milorad Dodik (far right) in September.
BELGRADE -- Serbian prosecutors say they are preparing an indictment against popular singer Svetlana "Ceca" Raznatovic on charges that include alleged embezzlement from the sale of players from the soccer club she inherited from her slain husband, the notorious warlord "Arkan," RFE/RL's Balkan Service reports.

A draft indictment against Ceca, in which Raznatovic's sister, Lidija Velickovic Ocokoljic, is also named, was published in Serbian media on November 23. In it, the popular "turbo-folk" singer who is well-known throughout the Balkans would face up to 12 years in prison.

The charges against her include siphoning funds from FC Obilic player transfers from 2000 to 2003 as well as illegal possession of firearms found in her home in 2003.

"The investigation was very long and thorough," said Tomo Zoric, a spokesman for the Serbian prosecutor's office. "It included expertise and we sought help from various countries. The public will be informed when it's ready."

The investigation was launched after Ceca's luxury Belgrade home was raided as part of a crackdown on the network of criminals and nationalists behind the assassination of reformist Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003.

Ceca was one of dozens of people detained then and she spent three months in prison.

Ceca's lawyer, Goran Petronijevic, told RFE/RL that his client has no comment because there is no indictment against her. "She, just like any of us, does not need to talk about something that does not exist," he said.

Belgrade media have reported that Ceca has denied any wrongdoing in the conduct of the sale of the soccer players, claiming they were all arranged before her husband was killed. She also said the firearms were brought to the house by her husband.

Ceca and Zeljko "Arkan" Raznatovic were married in 1995 in a nationally televised nationalist extravaganza, shortly after he had gained notoriety for leading his paramilitary unit, "Arkan's Tigers," in the wars in former Yugoslavia in the first half of the 1990s.

His actions during the war earned him an indictment from the United Nations war crimes court. He was killed by gunmen in a Belgrade hotel in 2000.