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<nettime> More on indefinite detentions...
Ivo Skoric on Thu, 15 May 2003 18:11:22 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> More on indefinite detentions...


There were times when, if Serbian police would arrest somebody 
and hold him for more than a month without charging him with 
anything, the entire international humanitarian community would 
jump as if stunned by high voltage jolt into a frenzy of statements 
about deplorable human rights conditions in that Balkan state.

As such detentions became, sadly, a common thing even in the 
world's pre-eminent democracy, Serbian security apparatus seized 
on the opportunity to 'deal' with its regime opponents, following the 
brutal slaying of prime minister Djindjic on the steps of parliament, 
the Serbian way: storming offices and seizing all documentation.

About 4000 people were arrested in the aftermath. And the 
'international community' is applauding the Serbian resolve. I bet 
Aschcroft is green with envy. Mandic is a typical Balkan hustler, 
that bullied his way from a judo champ to a justice minister and 
ultimately one of the wealthiest men in Serbia.

It seems that Milosevic's cabal in Serbia by killing Djindjic finally 
angered the reigning regime to the point that the regime got ready 
to put an end on cabal's lucrative business ventures. All the better 
if that also cuts the lifeline to Radovan Karadzic!

ivo
  

From: www.iwpr.net

SERBIA: MANDIC ARREST THREATENS KARADZIC

How long can Karadzic evade justice now that the man thought to 
be financing him is behind bars?

By Zeljko Cvijanovic in Belgrade

The detention of Momcilo Mandic by Serbian police on April 13 is 
likely to help clear the way for the detention of former Bosnian Serb 
president Radovan Karadzic.  

A leading financier of the Bosnian Serb government, Mandic is 
alleged to have provided much of the funding that has allowed the 
war crimes suspect to remain in hiding.  

Mandic was arrested during the police sweep that followed the 
assassination of Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic. But nearly a 
month after his arrest, police have not yet specified what charges 
they intend to bring.  

This has led to speculation in Belgrade that his arrest was 
prompted by requests from the international community rather than 
having any relation to domestic issues.  

The war crimes tribunal has already expressed interest in 
arraigning Mandic, because he was justice minister in Karadzic's 
government during the first year of the Bosnian war.  As such he 
was in charge of the detention camps where Bosnian Croats and 
Muslims were held.  

However, Mandic may be of even greater value to The Hague 
because of his alleged role in bankrolling Karadzic since the war.  

The day he was arrested, the Office of the High Representative, 
OHR, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Paddy Ashdown, issued a statement 
welcoming Mandic's arrest. OHR spokesman Julian Braithwaite 
told the Belgrade news agency Fonet that Ashdown held evidence 
of Mandic's alleged criminal activities, but that he had no mandate 
to arrest him.  

On March 7, Ashdown had described Mandic as a very important 
link in the organised crime network in Republika Srpska, RS, which 
is helping Karadzic hide. "Momcilo Mandic is closely linked with 
the financing of Radovan Karadzic's operations," he said.  

Ashdown was speaking as he issued orders to freeze all 
transactions by companies owned by Mandic - ManCo Oil and 
Privredna Banka Sarajevo.  At the same time, Mandic and another 
23 Bosnian Serb businessmen were banned from entering the US 
and EU countries or doing business with them, because of 
suspicions that they were aiding Karadzic.  

ManCo Oil and Privredna Bank Sarajevo were two of the 15 
companies investigated by the Serbian police and the FBI a year 
and a half ago.  A senior source in the Belgrade police told IWPR 
that the investigation established that these companies used illegal 
income to finance Karadzic's concealment and protection.  

The same source said this proved that Mandic was a part of an old 
network of police and criminals, which continued to control much of 
the black market in Serbia and RS even after former Yugoslav 
president Slobodan Milosevic was ousted  

As OHR moved to close off Mandic's businesses, the US Treasury 
put out a statement claiming that he remained "a major funding 
source" for Karadzic through his control of a network of businesses 
engaged in fraud and embezzlement.  

It said he was able to finance Karadzic because he still had 
"control and influence" over the judiciary, interior ministry and 
intelligence service in RS.  

It is difficult to assess the scale of the alleged support Karadzic 
has been receiving. In early April, the deputy commander of the 
SFOR troops in Sarajevo, Colonel Klaus Gerlach, said the former 
Bosnian Serb leader had as many as 2,000 bodyguards.  

Mandic has not spoken publicly since his arrest, but the day after 
the OHR and US Treasury statements he rejected the allegations 
about Karadzic in an interview for the Belgrade daily Blic.  

"I am ready to go to Sarajevo for all kinds of questioning - even to 
the US if needed - just so I can finally clear my name and prove 
wrong the claims that I am aiding Karadzic," he said.  

A former Yugoslav judo champion, Mandic, 48, became a wealthy 
man in the mid-1980s when he opened a number of shops in 
Sarajevo.  At the time, he was working as a judge and later a 
police inspector in the city.  In 1990, as the nationalists took over 
in Bosnia, he was appointed deputy interior minister, 
representating Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party, SDS.  

At the beginning of 1992, Bosnian police conducted an 
investigation which concluded that Mandic had illegally transferred 
funds from the interior ministry to the SDS.  But the case was 
overtaken by the war, which began in April that year.  Karadzic 
gave Mandic the job of forging a new Serb police force.  

"I wasn't his right arm," explained Mandic later, "Radovan needed 
professionals and, without false modesty, I was a good policeman." 
 

Mandic was rewarded for his role in the first Serb military action in 
Sarajevo with the post of RS justice minister. "As justice minister I 
used to put on a bullet-proof vest and wage war as a soldier in 
Dobrinja (a suburb of Sarajevo)," Mandic later reminisced.  

In early 1993, he was sent to Belgrade where, as official 
representative of RS, he is alleged to have controlled the flow of 
military supplies to the Bosnian Serbs.  

In 1995, Mandic, together with Bosnian Serb vice-president 
Momcilo Krajisnik, set up a Belgrade branch of a Bosnian 
commercial bank, Privredna Banka Sarajevo. The bank transferred 
pensions and retirement benefits earned abroad to Bosnian Serbs.  

Mandic was general manager and the bank's biggest shareholder.  
And the lucrative cash transfer business, in which every delayed 
pension payment meant an increase in interest, made him one of 
the wealthiest of Bosnia's Serbs.  

After OHR froze its Bosnian assets in March, Privredna Banka 
Sarajevo also lost its Belgrade branch - its de facto headquarters - 
when on March 13 police stormed its offices and seized all its 
documentation.  

Mandic is alleged to have invested some of his earnings in illegal 
oil smuggling, a business carved up between Serbian police and 
mafia groups. The allegation comes from a policeman who was 
himself involved.  Mandic has denied any wrongdoing.  

He survived the end of Milosevic and continued to expand his 
businesses by investing in real estate in Belgrade and taking part 
in privatisations in RS and Serbia. In January this year, Mandic 
purchased Morava, a marble producer in Serbia, with plans to 
merge it with Mermer, a Bosnian Serb company. He is said to be 
worth between 100 and 200 million euro.  

Mandic has admitted some political funding. He told the Bijeljina-
based Extra magazine in December 2000 that he was financially 
supporting the SDS, then in a difficult position while in opposition. 
He also said he was paying for the defence of Momcilo Krajisnik in 
The Hague.  

It is said that no decision could be taken in the SDS without 
consulting Mandic. Given his influence in the region, it is thus no 
surprise that Bosnian Serb police did not respond to international 
requests to arrest him.  

In RS, the lines between legal and illegal business, and between 
illegal traders, politicians and police remain far from clear. This 
environment has provided Karadzic with a life support system until 
now. Across the border, Serbia is now moving to clear out 
networks of mafia and officials involved in racketeering and 
smuggling and to deliver war crimes suspects to The Hague.  

The removal of a key figure like Mandic has the potential to weaken 
some of these networks in both RS and Serbia, and to leave 
Karadzic more exposed than ever.  

Zeljko Cvijanovic is an IWPR contributor in Belgrade

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