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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    THU, 09 OCT 1997 20:56:34 GMT

    ARMS TRADE - LAST STOP: SARAJEVO

    The Epilogue of Maribor "Arms Scandal"

    AIM Ljubljana, 5 October, 1997

    The scandal with 120 tons of arms which the then defence minister Janez Jansa "detected" in a warehouse at Maribor airport on 21 July 1993, where it had been since September 1992, got its epilogue a few days ago just apparently - the arms were donated by the Slovenian government to the the army of Bosnia & Herzegovina as a gift, based on the suggestion of America, as part of the program of aid to Bosnia & Herzegovina titled: "Dress and Equip". These 120 tons of arms include 10 thousand Kalashnikov guns made in China, 32 mortars, 19 hand mortars, and a minor quantity of other arms with ammunition.

    At the time all the states established on the territory of former Yugoslavia were under the embargo on arms import which was disregarded by almost everyone, because illegal arms trade, apart from narcotics, has always been and still is the most profitable business, supported even by governments of the countries which had voted for the embargo in OUN. Even if there had been no open support, at least they closed their eyes, while commissions were paid to the coded bank accounts or directly into the hands both of the sellers and the mediators in this trade with death. That Slovenia, while Jansa was the minister of defence, had actively participated in arms trade is also confirmed by other scandals which were brought to light: the scandal in Celovec, and the one in Brnik, which along with the Maribor one, ministries of defence and of internal affairs were involved in.

    The investigation into the affair with arms found in Maribor lasted for eight months and was marked with a fierce internal political squaring of accounts in Slovenia. Jansa claimed that the arms were intended for Bosnia & Herzegovina, that the approval to violate the embargo was given directly by president Milan Kucan at the request of the government in Sarajevo and that he had enabled the main logistics officer of the Bosnian ministry of defence Hasan Cengic to establish all the necessary contacts in Slovenia. Jansa also accused Silvo Komar, former member of the communist party and close friend of president Kucan as the owner of the arms, Milan Hmelak, head of the security information service in Maribor, Bruno Kermavec, director of Mariboor airport and Tomislav Spehar, assistent of transportation manager. Along with them, Zvonko Ekart, Hasan Cengic, Dieter Hofmann (Austrian citizen known for good connections with world arms merchants), and Sudanese Al Hasanein, were also accused. From September 1992 until they were "revealed", the arms were transported somewhere by helicopters, which even the cleaning women could testify about. Later on it was claimed that a part of the weapons were transported to Cazin region, and a part to - Knin, but these allegations have never been confiirmed. The only thing that is evident is that the weapons have never reached those who had paid for them - the government and the army of B&H. After eight months, the court released all the accused of all charges, and after that they brought charges against Janez Jansa.

    The office of President Kucan made public the request of the B&H government to make the Maribor airport the transit airport for humanitarian aid for B&H until conditions were created for transportation of this aid to B&H, and he also revealed to the public his reply that he had forwarded the request to the relevant government ministries.

    Along with the trial in the Maribor court, a special parliamentary commission opened an investigation, and managed to procure the testimony of Hasan Cengic who was not questioned by the court, but in the end withdrew the international warrant for the arrest of Cengic.

    The result of the court investigation and findings of the parliamentary commission can be summarized as follows: the arms discovered in Maribor were intended for the army of Bosnia & Herzegovina, it was ordered by Hasan Cengic who was authorized by the Presidency of B&H to do it, the weapons were paid for by Islamic countries, the organizer of the whole business was Al Hasanein, in charge of transportation was the Austrian Hofman who was also an associate of several intelligence services and the owner of the airline Flying Tygers. There is no evidence that any individual or state agency of the Republic of Slovenia was involved.

    The question which remains without an answer is: if the arms had been paid for by the Islamic countries, where is the money? And if the arms had been paid for, how was it possible to donate it?

    Janez Jansa, nowadays the president of the Social Democratic Party, commented that the decision of the government was made "under pressure from the office of the president", because a signal had come from Sarajevo that, if the arms were not delivered, the background of this trading business would be revealed, in other words, he repeated the accusations against Kucan. A resolute denial of this allegation arrived from Sarajevo, and the government of B&H even expressed special gratitude to the government of Slovenia for the long expected decision. Jansa's allegation was also denied by the current Slovenian minister of defence, Tit Turnsek, who told him at the tv duel that the confiscated arms were property of the Slovenian government, that they did not meet the NATO requirements adopted by Slovenia and that it was donated to the army of B&H in accordance with the recommendation of representatives of a few countries-members of the NATO, as part of the program "Dress and Equip", and that reaching of this decision was not influenced by any pressure from the presidential office.

    Zoran Odich

    AIM