TUE, 31 MAY 1994 20:20:57 GMT
Where a part of the "war loot" from Dubrovnik ended up
Summary: How Director of the Student Hostel in Niksic "liberated" an enormous quantity of various commodities from the battlefield around Dubrovnik, allegedly for the needs of the Hostel, although none of the employees in it ever saw most of the loot. The commodities were loaded in Kupari and Mlini with a special permit issued by the former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) during the night - "because of the the vicinity of the battlefield". The entire loot was loaded into six trailers and two trucks. How Nada Bulatovic, wife of the Montenegrin President, demanded that an inventory of the commodities be made and then the commodities sold. The financial police could not make a report on business operation of the Student Hostel because there was no documentation. Kovacevic complained to an investigative judge claiming that his chief accountant "told him four months after the arrival that an inventory and an evaluation of the commodities should be made". How a relevant Command of the Army of Yugoslavia from Herceg Novi demanded that an inventory and an evaluation of the seized goods be made and a part of the money be paid to the credit of a current account for the purpose of "building a monument to the killed warriors and education of their children"!!! Why the ex-Chief of the General Staff of the Army of Yugoslavia, Zivota Panic, interrupted the investigation, and how Montenegrin generals, who were later sent into retirement, Strugar and Damjanovic, bought luxurious cars. Minister of education in Montenegrin Government brought charges against Director Kovacevic but not because of the plunder, although this does not mean that it will not be put "on the agenda". Kovacevic is not worried because of that, but is proceeding with his "business operations" - he has bought the branch office of the famous "Karic Bank" in Podgorica, so that those who are well-informed assess that his wealth is worth 4 million German marks.
Had the Basic Public Prosecutor's Office in Podgorica failed to bring charges (founded on an anonymous report and the report of the financial police) against Radoman Kovacevic, Director of the Student Hostel "Braca Vucinic" from Niksic, for illegal procurement of food and other minor offences, Montenegrin public would have remained deprived of a not too pleasant story about the raid of the Director and a group of students in the region of Dubrovnik. The anonymous charges against Director Kovacevic, who is a refugee from Osijek, were probably brought by one of the employees of the Student Hostel, who are accusing the Director not only of the minor abuses, but of a major robbery (although this is, for the time being, not specified in the charges): namely, that he had brought a profusion of goods from the Dubrovnik battlefield, and seized it for himself "instead of giving it up to the Student Hostel".
The suspicion that Kovacevic had plundered "liberated wealth" from the battlefields around Dubrovnik caused a split among the employees of the Student Hostel. The robbery disturbed the relations among them to such an extent that an emergency session of the Board of the Public Institution Home of the Pupils and Students "Braca Vucinic" (the Student Hostel being a part of it) in Niksic was convened on July 6, 1992, and its Director at the time, Nada Bulatovic, was present, who is better known to the public as the wife of the President of the Montenegrin state, Momir Bulatovic. The minutes of the session reveal many issues which are, besides Kovacevic, accusations against some of the heads of the Army of Yugoslavia.
It was revealed that about fifteen students, residents of the "Braca Vucinic" Hostel, headed by Radoman Kovacevic, in March 1992 while the war raged around Dubrovnik, protected by darkness and military police, loaded six trailers and two trucks with various commodities from the hotels in Mlini and Kupari and drove them to Niksic. This action was organized by the former JNA. Its competent Command even issued a permit to Radoman Kovacevic stating "that for the needs of the Student Hostel in Niksic, he is permitted to take from Mlini (hotels) furniture, radiators, dishes and kitchen utensils", and a pass "approving travelling in the direction Sutorina-Trebinje and back". The permit was signed, "per procurationem of the Commander" (general Pavle Strugar, the head of the Second Army District), by the Head of the Civilian Administration - colonel Drago Pipovic.
The commodities were transported by "Autotransportno" enterprise from Niksic, which issued an invoice No. 1079-19, dated March 13, 1992, for transportation services of 160 tons of "equipment, furniture and other" from Kupari to Niksic. The documents enclosed to the invoice actually show that furniture, equipment and various goods were transported, but the opponents of Director Kovacevic claim that, besides the furniture, a large number of paintings, telephone switch boards worth hundreds of thousand German marks, 1640 radiators, luxurious goods, and what not, also arrived in the trucks!!! According to statements of witnesses, two heavy metal safes were also brought, and Kovacevic opened them with the help of mechanics and welding machines and took the gold and foreign currency he found in them.
At the mentioned session, Kovacevic was not reproached for having gone to pick up the loot, but for "having gone with a few employees and about twenty students", so that noone knew "what was brought to the Hostel, since no official specification was made". The employees of the institution are accusing the Director now that he had taken most of the loot for himeself, and that he had silenced the witnesses who had gone with him by various donations and privileges. For instance, those who are dissatisfied claim that the students who went to Kupari with him, do not have to pay services of the Hostel since March last year. Director Kovacevic defended himself saying that he had the right to "enter the houses of the Ustashe", since his house was, allegedly, "burnt down by the Ustashe".
To make the picture complete, the Army of Yugoslavia joined in the game by sending a telegram to all the "recipients of war loot", the Student Hostel in Niksic being one of them, demanding, "because of rumours about the abuses and privatization of the loot, a precise list of all the assets received with their approximate market prices". "We would appreciate it if you would pay the equivalent value in favour of our new account No. 60818-637-6303, RC SSNO, Belgrade, code 205", reads the telegram of the Military Command, stressing that the money obtained in this way would be used "for building a monument to the killed warriors of the Second Operational Group, for scholarships and education of their children, and aid for the warriors seriously disabled for life"!!! The telegram was signed by colonel Drago Pipovic, Head of the Civilian Administration of the Operational Group Command in Sutorina - Herceg Novi.
The Minister brings charges against the Director
Kovacevic, of course, never paid a single dinar to the Army of Yugoslavia, although Nada Bulatovic, "as a matter of principle", demanded that "an inventory be made, objects evaluated and sold, and it is known how this is done - through the good offices of this Board".
New problems for the Director of the Student Hostel emerged recently when the Minister of Education and Science in the Government of Montenegro, Predrag Obradovic, brought charges against him for minor abuses and illegal return to work of employees discharged as surplus manpower. Besides, the Minister added that "the existence of other irregularities and acts that could be qualified as illegal also exist", which practically brought Kovacevic to a deadend. But, the financial police which looked into the papers of the institution after that and carried out an audit, stated helplessly that the "legal person did not provide records on the property it manages" and that, based on the documents available, "it was impossible to carry out auditing and make a report on financial and material business operation of the Student Hostel in Niksic".
Six months later, Kovacevic was summoned by the investigative judge where he described in detail how he "loaded and transported the commodities to Niksic" with some 15 students dressed in uniforms obtained from the military command. "We worked at night because a war was going on in close vicinity", Kovacevic explained to the judge. He stated also that military policemen from Kupari helped them with the loading, and that the goods were loaded into six trailers and two trucks and driven to the Student Hostel. "Only four months later, the chief accountant warned me that an inventory and an evaluation of the goods should be made", Kovacevic complained to the judge.
And then, instead of a continuation and completion of the investigation, everything was interrupted after a hint from the General Staff of the Army of Yugoslavia, to be precise, from its first man at the time, general Zivota Panic, and his Montenegrin commissioners, general Pavle Strugar, Commander of the Second Army at the time, and general Radomir Damjanovic, Commander of the Podgorica corps. Shedding more light on the case about the destiny of a part of the loot from Dubrovnik battlefield did not suit them because they too were deeply involved. The opposition press here reported earlier that general Strugar acquired a new "Mercedez 190" for only 800 German marks while the war was at its height, and that Damjanovic obviously "overpaid" his luxurious "Peugeot" when he gave 1200 marks for it! In order to make "everything legal", a pretended auction was organized to help the generals get "the goods from the war loot legally". Presumably in order to put an end to scandals with the generals and save the reputation of the Army, the newly appointed Head of the General Staff of the Army of Yugoslavia, general Perisic, resolved the Strugar- Damjanovic case by sending them into retirement.
As far as Kovacevic is concerned, he is neither retired nor is he in jail. It is hard to say whether the latest court trial will cause his end by unwinding the coil of his abuses. He is obviously carefree and continuous with his activities: he recently bought the "Karic" Bank branch office in Podgorica, and appointed his wife as the Director. The well-informed assess his property to be worth some "meagre" four million German marks. This does not prevent him to continue to receive parcels with the aid from the Red Cross for his sorrowful refugee life.