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What is behind the smear campaign against Stanko Subotic (11)

Kostunica’s Expert Team for Spreading Lies

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For God’s sake why would you think Beko is going to take over Novosti: Kostunica sweetly convinces Bodo Hombach
For God’s sake why would you think Beko is going to take over Novosti: Kostunica sweetly convinces Bodo Hombach
Photo: EPA

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

Don’t mention Subotic to me: Aleksandar Tijanic, Kostunica’s lackey
Photo: Stock
Fear of Arkan, Badza, Mrgud… (Vecernje Novosti, 11.09.2008; by J.D.Ljutic)

Three more witnesses have testified in the trial of a group charged with organized tobacco smuggling during the 90s, allegedly headed by Stanko Subotic Cane. The court heard testimony from an employee of Pansped, a driver who took several consignments of cigarettes to Vukovar and Erdut, and the head of Bogojevo customs office. Head of Bogojevo customs Vlada Okuka said that unregistered goods had frequently entered Serbia from Krajina and from various states. He said that customs personnel had received instructions to let certain goods in, redirecting them to some other office for customs clearance. He added that all orders had come from “above.”

“Customs employees were very scared at that time,” said Okuka, “Police and the army had greater authority than customs officials, which was wrong. Tobacco smuggling during that time was like the smuggling of coffee which had gone on earlier, very widespread and under the auspices of powerful people.”

Judge Milena Rasic asked the witness who the customs officials, particularly in Bogojevo, had been afraid of, and whether the witness had ever been specifically threatened. Okuka replied,

“They called us names. They called us Ustashas. Not to mention that many, including Arkan and the late Radovan Stojcic Badza, a former Interior Minister, threatened us. Mrgud made threats against me. He is one of the defendants in this trial. He used to be the head of police in Republika Srpska Krajina.”

Defendant Mrgud confronted the witness.

“Have you ever seen Mrgud and do you know what he looks like?” Milovanovic asked the witness.

“Of course I know what he looks like. You are Mrgud,” replied the witness.

“He is lying. Everything he has said is a lie. I never threatened anybody. It is not my style,” said Milovanovic finally.

Cane Did Not Launder Money in Switzerland (Blic, 16.10.2008; by NN)

Stanko Subotic’s team of lawyers has stated that a ruling by Swiss Federal Attorney Adrian Ettwein that there is no reason to freeze the accounts of Subotic’s companies is now official.

Subotic’s bank accounts had been frozen as the result of an investigation into money laundering. A decision was made to unfreeze the accounts in December 2007. Now it has become official. Subotic’s lawyers say their client has also been cleared of any wrongdoing after parallel investigations into money laundering carried out in Lichtenstein and France. They hope that the Italians will now halt further investigation and that authorities under the new government in Serbia will allow bail for Subotic in the organized tobacco smuggling case against him. Subotic’s lawyers say that the action being taken against their client is politically motivated as the “alleged evidence” in the case was sent by fax from the office of former President Vojislav Kostunica.

Lawsuit against Nacional (Vecernje Novosti, 30.10.2008; by N.B.)

Businessman Stanko Subotic’s legal team is preparing to sue Nacional, which has allegedly launched “another even more monstrous campaign” against Subotic. The latest issue of the Croatian weekly magazine says “police have not ruled out the possibility that Subotic was behind the murder of Ivo Pukanic, since the co-owner of Nacional was one of the key witnesses in proceedings in Italy against the tobacco mafia. Nacional also states that Pukanic was provided police protection on several occasions because he had found out that Subotic was planning to kill him.

Gathered together: Vojislav Kostunica, Milo Djukanovic, Zoran Djindjic
Photo: EPA

“We will not allow events from 2001 to repeat, when the magazine launched the tobacco scandal full of falsehoods. Over a period of 34 weeks they demonized Subotic and Serbian and Montenegrin prime ministers Zoran Djindjic and Milo Djukanovic. At that time the propaganda had unforeseeable political consequences for Serbia, the tragically murdered Prime Minister Djindjic and our client Subotic,” state the lawyers.

The articles in Nacional were the beginning of a several years long, systematic and well coordinated campaign, which did irreparable harm to the reputation and honor of the team’s client.

Articles against Cane Allegedly Originated in Kostunica’s Cabinet (Blic, 01.11.2008; by: N.J.)

Stanko Subotic Cane’s team of lawyers said yesterday that they had brought charges against persons unknown they referred to as an “expert team of former President Vojislav Kostunica’s Cabinet.” They claimed that these individuals had commissioned the defamatory articles on Stanko Subotic’s involvement in crime, published by Nacional. They said the articles had also been translated and sent to the embassies of various countries.

Lawyer Vladimir Beljanski said at a press conference yesterday that investigations had been carried out against Subotic in certain Western countries on the basis of the articles.

“The articles were commissioned in Belgrade and sent to Croatia through diplomatic channels. The expert team, an informal body of the former President’s Cabinet, worked from Cabinet offices. During 2001, news articles were sent by fax from the phone number of Aleksandar Nikitovic’s office, who was the deputy head of Vojislav Kostunica’s Cabinet at that time. First the articles reached the Italian embassy in Belgrade and later the Italian prosecution and EU bodies. In certain countries investigations were initiated against Stanko Subotic on the basis of reports fabricated in this manner, and after lengthy procedures in the courts of Lichtenstein, Switzerland and France Subotic was cleared of all suspicion,” said Beljanski.

Subotic’s lawyer Radoslav Tadic said yesterday that Subotic was not involved in the murder of the co-owner of the Croatian weekly magazine Nacional, Ivo Pukanic, in Zagreb.

Operatives (Kurir, 13.11.2008; by: R.K.)

The so called expert team, the EC Expert Unit of the President’s Cabinet, whose “expertise” became the basis of charges against Stanko Subotic in Italy, was led by Miroljub Labus. According to information gathered by Kurir, it is not possible to precisely determine who was part of the team, or even if there was anyone actually employed in it.

Present in all things financial: Mladjan Dinkic, personal standard expert
Photo: Beta/ Vladimir Milovanović

However, people who used to work in the Federation Palace at that time have confirmed that all key members of the President’s Cabinet participated in the work of the expert team. Our findings tell us the “dream team” included, at least occasionally, Boris Begovic, Vladan Begovic, Miroljub and Olivera Labus, Tanja Dinkic, Mladen Spasic, Aleksandar Tijanic and Aleksandar Nikitovic, from whose office a report was sent to the Italian embassy. At the time these reports were made, the more equal than others Boris Begovic, was an advisor to Deputy Prime Minister of the federal government Miroljub Labus. Vladan Begovic was the head of the federal customs administration. Olivera Labus, the spouse of Miroljub Labus, held chief authority in insurance matters in the federal government. The other lady in the expert team was Tanja Dinkic, the spouse of Mladjan Dinkic, who is the current Minister of Economy and Regional Development. She also used to work for the Ministry of Economy earlier. A common link between the two ladies is that prior to 5 October both used to work in the Trade Ministry. The Ministry was in charge of excise goods, including cigarettes.

Mladen Spasic was also among those who worked for the expert team. Until recently he was the head of the organized crime section of the police (SBPOK). In public he is often referred to as Dinkic’s best man. Director of Radio Television Serbia Aleksandar Tijanic also had an important role in the team, concerning the selection of items from the Croatian and Montenegrin press.

According to allegations by our sources, the reports which led to tobacco smuggling charges by the Italian prosecution were written on the basis of articles from the media, primarily the weekly magazine Nacional from Zagreb and the Podgorica newspaper Dan. Content for these articles was allegedly prepared by the expert team and sent to Zagreb and Podgorica. The diplomatic mail service was frequently used for this purpose.

Yesterday, Kurir tried to get in touch with people who worked for the expert team or were related to it. They did not wish to comment. Miroljub Labus hung up without waiting to even hear a question. Aleksandar Nikitovic, Vladan Begovic, Boris Begovic, Olivera Labus, Tanja Dinkic and Mladen Spasic did not answer the phone.

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Aleksandar Tijanic did not want to comment on Kurir’s information yesterday either. Instead he announced that he would sue anybody saying he was a member of “any expert team whatsoever.”

“I don’t even know what sort of expert team you are talking about. This is not a joke! I look at this as an attack on me and I will sue the chief editor. I will make no statement. I am only telling you everything will be clarified in a court of law,” said Tijanic.

Bubalo Broke up WAZ, Subotic Partnership (Kurir, 26.11.2008; by O.N.)

Four years ago the Minister of Economy in Vojislav Kostunica’s government, who is also a top DSS functionary, tried to convince the German media company WAZ to terminate all its contracts with Stanko Subotic. Kurir has learnt that Bubalo stated at the German embassy in Belgrade that “it was only a question of days before Subotic would be arrested,” and that he (Bubalo) had been “entrusted with a confidential, secret mission in order to avoid a scandal.”

“You should not let your prestigious company get linked with a criminal,” said Bubalo on that occasion, allegedly.

Brothers in privatization: Manojlo Vukotic and Predrag Bubalo, Milan Beko’s forward players
Photo: Stock

Subotic’s team of lawyers has stated that in 2004 the DSS functionary asked the German embassy for a meeting with a high level representative of WAZ, so that he could convince the company to terminate their contracts with Subotic, because of charges against Subotic. In fact it was in 2006 that Subotic was indicted! Subotic’s lawyers are asking authorities in Serbia if it is correct that Bubalo conveyed to WAZ on the same occasion that the Serbian government was ready to find them a new partner and bigger business deals. They say inquiries into this matter will be made publicly and that they expect relevant organs in Serbia to respond soon and take all necessary measures against those involved.

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Serbialeaks: Subotic – most dangerous witness to high level government corruption

These documents related to the unprecedented smear campaign against Stanko Subotic, presented in a series of 11 episodes, are only a tip of the iceberg of the high level corruption in which top functionaries of the country were involved, together with their favorite tycoons. We will summarily recount ten taboo themes about which the Serbian government does not wish to talk.

1. A detailed testimony by Stanko Subotic on the machinations, blackmail and corruption of former Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic, and documents pertaining to the WAZ case were sent to the special prosecutor May last year. Other than an assurance that “work was being done on the case”, not a word was said about the sensational evidence of high level corruption in the government (Dejan Mihajlov, Predrag Bubalo, Milan Beko, Miroslav Miskovic, Dragi Micovic, Dragan Jocic).

2. A detailed testimony by Stanko Subotic on the machinations of Milan Beko and Miroslav Miskovic concerning the takeover of Vecernje Novosti from WAZ, together with related documents, was sent to the special prosecutor in May last year. Regardless of Milan Beko’s admission on TV B92 that he holds the majority ownership of Vecernje Novosti, which he obtained with the help of the government, the prosecutor wisely chooses to remain silent. Nobody is mentioning the role played by Manojlo Vukotic, or the money he received from WAZ. To the contrary, the political tandem Manjo Vukotic–Milan Beko is working under Tadic’s government just as smoothly as it did under Vojislav Kostunica. Faces have changed, the system remains the same.

3. The trial of Stanko Subotic before the special court in Belgrade over “abuse of office in a private firm” is an example of farcical cases in the history of the Serbian judiciary. This offense does not exist anywhere in the European Union, and it is not even recognized by Russia. It is obvious that this case is state level revenge against Stanko Subotic who dared to mention matters about which silence prevails in Serbia: ties between the government and tycoons, blackmail, extortion, bribery, political party corruption and unprecedented plunder.

4. The trial of Stanko Subotic will be remembered for its bizarre legal details. The accused was not allowed to call a single witness to testify; instead of original documents, photocopies were used; witnesses against Subotic were blackmailed into testifying with threats of imprisonment; all Subotic’s bail applications were refused (including the final €5 million bail petition) making it impossible for him to come to Belgrade to attend the trial without being incarcerated. While it was very easy for the prosecution to agree on a deal with Ceca Raznatovic about a nonsensical house arrest sentence, Subotic’s €5 million bail application was refused. Fear of his testimony is far greater than any sum being offered in bail.

5. Persistently and falsely, the Serbian prosecution has claimed for years now that Stanko Subotic is a fugitive from justice. The obvious fact that Stanko Suobtic has been living and working for years now in Geneva, Switzerland, a free man, is completely brushed aside. The prosecution knows his address well, as it is the same one at which they used to send him subpoenas.

6. The smear campaign against Stanko Subotic will be remembered as one of the longest and most persistent in the history of the Balkans. Joint work by Croatian, Serbian and Montenegrin newspapers and magazines (Nacional, Blic, Standard, Politika, Vecernje Novosti, Press, Balkan, Kurir, Dan, Monitor, Vijesti) is coordinated by those very tycoons and state officials who are afraid Stanko Subotic may appear before the court and disclose everything he knows about tobacco smuggling, the purchase of businesses, the takeover of Vecernje Novosti, the case of Belgrade Harbor and the machinations of individuals like Ratko Knezevic and William Montgomery.

 7. The techniques used in this kind of deception and lying were established many years ago. One newspaper or magazine presents initial information, another adds something new, the third makes changes to it and, if needed, adds content, so that in the end it is all presented once again by the original paper or magazine as new information from “reliable sources” about the criminal enterprises of Stanko Subotic. This pattern can also easily be presented in a visual form.

8. The media campaign against Stanko Subotic does not stand out just for its persistence, having lasted for nearly eight years uninterrupted, but also for the creative falsehoods with which it enflames the public. Let us recall that Subotic was immediately accused in several murder cases as the one who had given the orders, but when something very different was proved in the court, not a single newspaper or magazine which had accused him of being a murderer ever admitted the mistake. Let us remember that for months it was claimed that Subotic had purchased the Croatian weekly magazine Nacional, for everything to be forgotten later – no harm done, just a bit of lying. So what? Let us also not forget that recently Monitor accused Subotic of practically ruling over Montenegro. When Subotic challenged them to prove their allegations and to take all the property they had mentioned if proven right, Monitor did not respond.

Case still open: Stanko Subotic
Photo: Stock
9. Many cannot forget and forgive Stanko Subotic’s close friendship with Zoran Djindjic. Many transferred their hate fixation from the assassinated Prime Minister to Subotic; including Aleksandar Tijanic, Vojislav Kostunica’s confidant. He has an almost reflex reaction to any mention of his name in connection with the time when he was media advisor to then President Vojislav Kostunica. An analysis of Tijanic’s reactions illustrates his frustration over the fact that Subotic is not in a jail in Serbia. For him Subotic is probably an enemy of the state who dared to reveal the financial deals made by Vojislav Kostunica and his Praetorian Guard.

10. Stanko Subotic’s case is Serbia’s biggest defeat. All the self glorification and stories about an independent judiciary are exposed as empty talk by the “abuse of office in a private firm” charge, which is being used as the last resort in this political scandal. Instead of allowing Subotic to come to Belgrade to testify, the government is doing everything it can to stop him from doing so; tales are being made up and told through the media they control, the public is being brainwashed, an image is being created of a shrewd and underhanded enemy who is working against the entire society from Geneva – because he is not ready to become the sacrificial lamb of Milan Beko and Miroslav Miskovic. In short, as long as these two individuals continue to rule over Serbia, the case of Stanko Subotic will never be resolved. This is in fact the true moral of this series of articles.

(The End)

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