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What is behind the smear campaign against Stanko Subotic (8)

Government gloats, Cane arrested in Moscow in 2008!

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Seen Already: Medojevic’s falsehoods about Subotic
Seen Already: Medojevic’s falsehoods about Subotic
Photo: Combo

All that has been the focus of public attention during the past few weeks: charges by Srdja Popovic in the political background of the assassination of Zoran Djindjic, the misplaced and lost charges filed by Vladimir Popovic against Legija’s lawyers, articles by Jasna Babic about an organized campaign by the weekly Nacional against Zoran Djindjic, Milo Djukanovic and Stanko Subotic, as well as articles about the role of former US ambassador William Montgomery take us back to the unprecedented media campaign which has been going on for years against the same individuals, mainly against Stanko Subotic, for the sole reason that he was a friend of Zoran Djindjic. From the vast volume of media documents which Serbialeaks has at its disposal, in a series of articles, we will present to our readers the methods, style, structure and motives behind this shocking smear campaign against Stanko Subotic, run in the same way in which Kostunica’s machinery had dealt with Vladimir Beba Popovic or the late Prime Minister for years. Articles from print media will be presented in their original form without comments, simply as proof of the pattern behind this political confrontation

Favorite target of Serbian media: Milo Djukanovic
Photo: Stock
Djukanovic’s Cowardly Act (Glas Javnosti, 30.03.2008; by: M.S – D.C)

Milo Djukanovic left for Bari the day before yesterday for a hearing by the Italian prosecution in an investigation into his involvement in international tobacco smuggling. An international arrest warrant could have been issued for him had he avoided responding to the court subpoena. “He accepted his fifth term in office as Prime Minister in order to gain full diplomatic immunity because he had learnt that his case in Bari was very weak and that very soon an international arrest warrant would be issued for him. This is the reason why he went there, knowing that he had international diplomatic immunity, even though he says it was at his own initiative,” says Nebojsa Medojevic for Glas. Medojevic is the leader of the PZP (Movement for Change) and a presidential candidate in elections in Montenegro. Medojevic says his claim from two years ago, that Djukanovic would be one of those indicted for collaborating with the Italian mafia, has been proven correct.

“In my opinion his claim to diplomatic immunity is an act unbefitting a head of state. It is a cowardly act because this is not the Montenegrin way of defending honor and reputation. It shows that he is aware of his guilt and responsibility. Contrary to what a real Montenegrin leader would do, unlike our ancestors, instead of sacrificing himself for national interest, he is sacrificing national interest for the sake of his personal and private interests. Had I been in his place, had I been charged with crimes, I would have defended myself with the help of my lawyers. I would not have hidden behind the state and the people of Montenegro, which is what he has now done,” stresses Medojevic.

Djukanovic’s political opponent highlights that it is obvious the Montenegrin leader cannot prove his innocence and has been forced to claim diplomatic immunity.

“Mr. Djukanovic has not denied that cigarette smuggling took place through Montenegro and that the EU is seeking €8 billion in damages. Everyone in Montenegro knows that people close to Djukanovic are the richest in Montenegro. This means it isn’t true that money from the business went into the budget. The money was going into the private bank accounts of Mr. Djukanovic and his close friends and relatives. Now he has taken the money, has used diplomatic immunity, has used the state, and the tax payers of Montenegro will have to pay the price. The case is not closed, because damages to the EU will have to be paid by the people of Montenegro,” says the leader of the PZP.

“Djukanovic’s term in office lasts until December 2009, when snap elections are to be held. If I and the democratic opposition win, Djukanovic’s case will be processed by the prosecutor’s office in Montenegro,” concludes Medojevic.

Andrija Mandic, the candidate of the SL alliance of parties in Montenegro, also thinks that Djukanovic assumed office in order to protect himself.

“He came back also to make Montenegro a part of NATO, to surrender Prevlaka to Croatia and to recognize the independence of Kosovo through some kind of international arbitration. My opinion is that he is in a rather unenviable position. He is suspected of cigarette smuggling and he is being treated by the Italian prosecution as a member of the mafia,” says Mandic. The Montenegrin government states that Djukanovic went to Bari on “a personal request”, sent in the middle of last year.  The Podgorica newspaper Vijesti reports that the hearing lasted six and a half hours and finished the day before yesterday evening at 22.00 hours. Prosecution representatives asked Djukanovic 80 questions. Djukanovic is defending against charges that he led a mafia group involved in tobacco smuggling.

According to Vijesti, Djukanovic’s arrival in Bari had been planned down to the smallest detail. It was not known until the last moment that Djukanovic would be questioned. Journalists and camera crews were kept at a distance from the justice center in Bari. The entire building was off limits for the large number of journalists and photographers present. Djukanovic arrived in a blue Mercedes, escorted by two other cars with security personnel. Djukanovic was accompanied by his lawyer Enrico Tuccillo and an interpreter. The ANSA press agency newspaper has published an article “A Dirty and Unusable Side Entrance for the Prime Minister”, in which a description is given of the side entrance to the justice centre with dirty glass, not washed for years, and cigarette ends over which the Prime Minister and his entourage had to walk. Questioning began on the 4th floor of the building in the Cabinet of Bari Chief Prosecutor Emilio Marzano at 15.30 hours.

Spice in every scandal: Vojislav Kostunica, the too honest prime minister
Photo: EPA

The ANSA news agency states that charges against Djukanovic also relate to helping and facilitating the smuggling of cigarettes through a state owned firm Zetatrans, which made it possible for smuggled cigarettes to be transported unhindered by motor boats to Italy, with the help of top police officials. Allegedly, he also offered a safe haven in Montenegro to mafia criminals wanted in Italy. A preliminary investigation was concluded last year in June. The Bari prosecution informed Djukanovic, former Finance Minister Miroslav Ivanisevic, former head of the Montenegrin trade mission in Milan Dusanka Jeknic and businessmen Veselin Barovic, B. Vujosevic and Brano Micunovic about it. According to allegations made by the prosecution, Stanko Subotic Cane was responsible for money laundering in the operation, writes Vijesti. The Italian media reporting from Bari describe Djukanovic as the 46 year old prime minister who has been elected to office for the fourth time, having also once served as president. “As father of the nation, Milo Djukanovic successfully carried out the peaceful secession of Montenegro from Serbia in 2006. He has been extremely well received by many Western politicians for his policy of directing his country towards Atlantic and European integration, without breaking ties with Russia, a country with which he established important economic relations,” reports ANSA.

Cane Arrested in Moscow (Press, 29.04.2008; by: Danijela Isailovic)

Stanko Subotic Cane, one of the richest Serbs wanted by the special prosecution for organized crime for heading the “tobacco mafia”, was arrested yesterday in Moscow, according to information received by Press. The Russian police arrested Subotic in response to a Red Notice issued by Interpol. The Russian authorities had yet to confirm this before this issue of Press was released (19.30 yesterday evening). However, our very reliable sources in Moscow say that Interpol and the Serbian embassy have been informed about Cane’s arrest. It is expected that the process for his extradition to Serbia will start immediately. Stanko Subotic has been a fugitive from justice since June last year, when arrests of the members of the “tobacco mafia” began. Charges against him say that as the head of one of three crime groups involved in cigarette smuggling, he earned at least RSD 173.5 million!

Apparently, Subotic arrived in Russia yesterday from Switzerland. He was to fly to Montenegro, where he is known to have hidden earlier.

Subotic did not resist arrest and gave himself up peacefully to the Russian police. The Russian authorities have put Subotic under extradition detention. “Since he was arrested on the basis of a warrant issued in Serbia, we expect him to be handed over to Serbia,” we were told in the Serbian Interior Ministry. Subotic’s lawyer Pavicevic was surprised when he was asked to comment on Subotic’s arrest.

“I don’t know about that. How did you come up with this information?” said Pavicevic and hung up.

Subotic is accused of having earned RSD 173,596,184 as the head of one of three crime groups involved in cigarette smuggling. Charges were also filed against Mihalj Kertes, former head of customs, Cane’s nephew Nikola Milosevic and employees of the firm Mia, Milan Rankovic Pekin, Ivana Krcmaricic, Jovica Randjelovic and Miroslav Pesic. Others charged with smuggling are former customs employees Stevan Banovic, Nebojsa Nikolic Tarzan and Dragi Dodevski. Milan Milanovic Mrgud, a former functionary of the RSK (Republika Srpska) and one of the founders of a paramilitary unit The Scorpions, singer Ivana Olujic, Miodrag Zavisic, former head of the Novi Sad police administration, Milovan Popivoda, former head of the DB centre in Novi Sad, and Luka Nenadic, Subotic’s associate, have also been identified as members of Cane’s group.

It is highly interesting that just prior to his arrest yesterday, Subotic, through his lawyer, offered his 170 square meter property in Knez Mihajlova Street in Belgrade, as bail collateral to the special court. Cane informed the special court that he would appear at a hearing on 19 May if the court accepted his €700,000 bail petition! In Serbia, Subotic is best known as the owner of Futura Plus, Serbia’s largest newspaper and cigarette retail firm, consisting of 1,200 kiosks and shops. The wider public heard about him in 2001, when the Zagreb weekly magazine Nacional created a scandal by publishing detailed articles about his alleged connections with Milo Djukanovic and the Serbian Prime Minister of that time, Zoran Djindjic.

Stanko Subotic was born in 1959 in the village of Kalinovac near Ub to a family of craftsmen. He began his career as a tailor. At the beginning of the 80s he went to France where he started his own business and opened his first shop, which developed into a chain of boutiques. His first big firm Mia, in connection with which he is said to be involved in cigarette smuggling, was a textile company in the beginning. According to Subotic’s official website, he owns a holding company EMI, based in Denmark, Futura Plus and Louis Max, a top quality wine distribution company, as well as the Villa Montenegro.

Cane Could Get 12 Years in Prison (Press, 30.04.2008; by: D.I – B.B)

Stanko Subotic Cane, the head of the “tobacco mafia” who has been arrested, could get 12 years in prison. If the special prosecution succeeds in proving allegations that Subotic headed a crime group which defrauded the state of at least RSD 173 million, one of the richest Serbs could be in deep trouble, as all his assets obtained through crime will also be confiscated! Subotic, who was arrested early Monday in Moscow, has been placed in extradition detention. A request for his extradition will be signed by Justice Minister Dusan Petrovic. We were told by government sources that proceedings were underway and a large number of documents were being translated into Russian. It cannot be said with certainty when Stanko Subotic will be handed over to Serbia, since extradition proceedings vary in different countries. It is uncertain if Subotic will be at the opening of the tobacco mafia trial on 19 May.

Sought Subotic’s extradition to Serbia: Dusan Petrovic, former Justice Minister
Photo: Beta

“The extradition process is by no means simple. This is best shown by the fact that we had to wait a long time for Bagzi or Joca Amsterdam to be handed over to Serbia. It took several months. It should be a bit quicker in the case of Russia and Subotic, unless the Italian prosecution complicates the situation. They also filed charges against Subotic. They could also demand his extradition. This could definitely slow down the process… However, the Bari prosecution has not made any such demand as yet. It is logical that Serbia should have priority here because Subotic was arrested as the result of a warrant issued here,” says a high level Press source in the Serbian judiciary.

Still, former Interior Minister Bozo Prelevic thinks that the Italians would be highly interested in getting hold of Subotic.

“It would not surprise me at all to see the Italian prosecution getting interested in Subotic. He probably knows a lot about cigarette smuggling in the entire region. Italy was one of the biggest victims of cigarette smuggling and Subotic’s testimony could help expand investigation,” says Prelevic for Press. Spokesperson of the special court Maja Kovacevic-Tomic tells Press that the trial scheduled to start on 19 May will depend on Subotic’s extradition. She says she cannot guess when he will be handed over as the process is complicated.

“The trial can begin without Subotic as scheduled, but considering the fact that he has been identified as the head of the crime group, it is possible that the main part of the trial will be postponed so that the first accused may attend. Of course, he must also be given time to prepare his defense,” says Maja Kovacevic-Tomic.

Lawyer Bozo Prelevic thinks that Stanko Subotic Cane is “worth his weight in gold” for the Serbian prosecution and it cannot be ruled out that he turns state’s witness.

“I think that Bojana Bajrusevic was one step ahead of Subotic. She has surely given a lot of important information to the court. Each new state witness should be able to provide the prosecution with new information. Ultimately the question is, will Subotic want or be able to reveal everything he knows,” says Prelevic.

Betrayed (Kurir, 30.04.2008; by: D.M)

The arrest of controversial businessman Stanko Subotic Cane (48) in Moscow has disturbed the Milosevic-Markovic family as well! Mirjana Markovic, the widow of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, and Marko Milosevic, his son, are avoiding arrest on charges of heading the “tobacco mafia” owing to their asylee status! Kurir has unofficial information that one of the reasons for Subotic’s trip to Moscow was his wish to contact members of the once most influential Serbian family. In this context, besides Milosevic’s widow and son, his brother Borislav is also being mentioned, who is expected to be a witness at the trial of “Cane’s group” at the special organized crime court.

Tragedy for Serbian media: Stanko Subotic released from detention in Russia
Photo: TV In

“Subotic’s contacts in Moscow have been documented and located. It is known whom he contacted prior to his visit to Russia and with whom he had meetings scheduled in Moscow,” says a Press source in the Serbian police. The source, however, could neither confirm nor deny whether the list of contacts included the names of Mirjana, Marko or Borislav Milosevic.

“The people Subotic contacted in Russia, from the first intercepted call to the point of arrest, include individuals from Serbia as well as Montenegro,” says the Kurir source. The source cannot reveal their names or their role regarding Subotic hiding in Moscow, as a report from the Russians concerning Subotic’s movements there is yet to arrive.

Until then, at least officially, it cannot be said whether Subotic really went to Moscow to sort out details of his defense in the tobacco mafia trial, and if he planned to go to Montenegro later, where he is known to have hidden the longest since Interpol issued a Red Notice for his arrest.

However, a Kurir source close to Subotic says, “The possibility cannot be ruled out that Cane was ‘sold out’, that he too, like tobacco mafia bosses Bojana Bajrusevic and Stevan Banovic, entered negotiations with the Serbian judiciary through a third party about giving himself up, but that they double crossed him and made a present of him to the police.”

Subotic’s lawyer Vlado Pavicevic stated immediately after his arrest that Cane had planned to return to Serbia to appear at the trial in the special court on 19 May. Pavicevic also revealed that he had been in constant contact with Subotic and that he had submitted a €700,000 bail petition a few days ago.

Empire on Sea (Vecernje Novosti, 30.04.2008; by: V.R)

No official comment has come from Montenegro regarding the arrest of Stanko Subotic Cane. During the last few years Subotic intensively developed his empire there, building and buying exclusive hotels, purchasing businesses and the entire island of Sveti Nikola. Certainly no answers are expected to be heard soon concerning the future of the huge investment projects Subotic was announcing.  Even though Subotic’s property in Montenegro is “an open secret”, Subotic himself never made any comment on claims that he had purchased the island of Sveti Nikola for €24 million from Belgrade businessman Nenad Djordjevic. Last year in spring just a few months before Interpol issued a Red Notice for his arrest, Subotic got his picture taken with Svetozar Marovic and Milo Djukanovic at a cocktail party, and announced the building of a new hotel on Sveti Stefan and a new marina in Budva Harbor, linked with the island of Sveti Nikola. It was said that he was very interested in purchasing Podgorica Duvanski Kombinat, and a subsidiary company of his Belgrade based business Futura Plus entered into newspaper and tobacco retail in Podgorica, forming a network of kiosks.

Blundering talk by Vecernje Novosti: Sveti Stefan, Serbian obsession
Photo: Stock

It was never confirmed that Subotic sold the Villa Montenegro on Sveti Stefan to the Russians, or that it had been Subotic who last November, purchased yet again from Djordjevic, the Admiral Hotel in Budva. Brano Micunovic and Milos Markovic, the son of the former president, were mentioned as Cane’s partners, which they denied, but not Cane. When Interpol issued a Red Notice for his arrest for organized tobacco smuggling, many in Serbia and Montenegro were convinced that he was in Montenegro, under the protection of his powerful friends. The Montenegrin police denied this several times in response to demands by the Serbian police for his extradition.

Spasic: Heads will Roll after Subotic Trial (Dnevnik, 03.05.2008; by: M.Bokozin)

“If Stanko Subotic Cane talks, the entire Balkan mafia will feel the effects,” former Serbian DB officer Bozidar Spasic stated yesterday for Dnevnik.

“Following Subotic, others in the Balkans will also fall,” says Spasic. The former DB functionary tells us, “Serbia is not as interested in Subotic’s trial as some other countries, particularly Montenegro. Subotic would be a very important witness against certain top Montenegrin functionaries, for instance Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.”

He says he doubts Subotic will be extradited to Serbia.

“Even though Subotic has only just been arrested, it is obvious that efforts are being made to play down the importance of his role in the entire business. However, it is a fact that his testimony, statements and even the trial itself, could open a Pandora’s box, revealing that in fact the entire Milosevic regime was making money illegally and that that money was going into private bank accounts and to party members,” stresses Spasic.

“It is a known fact that most of that money came from oil and tobacco smuggling. Investigation to date has shown that Stanko Subotic was most heavily involved. However, he was a favorite of many top police and party officials in Milosevic’s time and also of the authorities after 5 October 2000. This will probably lead to what usually happens in such cases here, a reduction in tensions during trial. There is a very real possibility that some sensitive details will be hushed up. We cannot judge Subotic for smuggling cigarettes for Milosevic during 1996, if he did that in 2000 as well, in some other way. But a lot of interesting issues will appear and some have appeared. However, the question is, have all police officials and departments been covered or not. Sometimes I wonder what the point of this whole thing is. Most of the key figures have died. But undoubtedly if there are people who made money from it and if the state is fighting against organized crime, then the law should be implemented,” says Bozidar Spasic.

He says the arrest and any future testimony given by Subotic will show how the Balkan organized crime triangle of Serbia, Montenegro and Republika Srpska functioned without a hitch. “It is still not certain that Cane’s arrest will shed light on all the issues involved. When he starts defending himself, he will have to talk about some very important post October 5 issues. Subotic has friends within some government circles. Considering the fact that there is a huge division within the authorities in Serbia, it is not surprising that one group wants to arrest him to show that the other side is corrupt. Half of Serbia’s criminals involved in and charged with cigarette smuggling are in Moscow. The trial of Subotic and his collaborators will be a very complicated process and it is highly probable that nothing will get clarified. The trial could last eight years, and then it will just fade into boredom and not be interesting anymore,” says Bozidar Spasic for Dnevnik.

Cane Sues Serbia in Strasbourg (Dnevnik, 06.05.2008; by: N.N.)

Lawyer Vlado Pavicevic said yesterday that Stanko Subotic Cane’s lawyers had sued the Republic of Serbia at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg because the rights of Subotic and three other defendants before the special division of Belgrade’s district court had been violated. “The lawsuit was filed on the basis of the European Convention on Human Rights and court rules, before Subotic was mistakenly placed in extradition detention in Russia,” said Subotic’s lawyers. Subotic’s team of lawyers say in their plaint that steps taken by the special division of the district court in Belgrade violated all dictates of the Penal Code pertaining to the right of the accused to legal representation and the rights of lawyers to perform their duties.

Hair style more important than law: Snezana Malovic, Justice Ministry’s model girl
Photo: vesti-online.com

They also state that the European Convention on Human Rights envisages the basic rights of the accused, including the right to legal representation. This right was not given to Subotic and Nikola Milosevic, Milan Rankovic and Ivana Krcmaric, the three other individuals to be tried with him at the special division of Belgrade’s district court, since their lawyers were not provided with documents concerning the case. Subotic and the others were not informed of the charges against them or any evidence against them. Defense lawyers were not able to properly question prosecution witnesses during the investigation procedure, because they were not familiar with material and evidence in the case.

Defense lawyers were not able to demand that those witnesses testify who could give testimonies in favor of their defendants under the same conditions that were valid for witnesses against them. The court also denied informing the lawyers of the detention orders issued for Subotic and the others, which violated their right to lodge an appeal. The orders of detention were the basis for issuing warrants for Subotic and the other defendants. The lawyers have asked the European Court of Human Rights to rule that the rights of Subotic and the other defendants were violated and that it is necessary to warn the Republic of Serbia that any future verdict cannot be based on evidence obtained without the knowledge of Subotic’s legal representatives and by violating his rights.

The trial of Subotic and his group charged with cigarette smuggling during the 90s is scheduled to begin on 19 May.

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