AIM: start

WED, 13 FEB 2002 23:44:04 GMT

The case of Alija Delimustafic - A Scandal in Grand Style

Gentlemen's Agreement

While Djindjic, Mihajlovic and their followers claim that Democratic Party of Serbia and Kostunica, while giving tirades on lawfulness and legal state, are making dubious deals with even more dubious Sarajevan businessman, the latter are doing their best to convince the public that the Government of Serbia is using secret police to disqualify and defame their opponents. A considerable number of people believe that both parties are right

AIM Belgrade, February 6, 2002

Why is Alija Delimustafic so important? While the former minister of internal affairs of Bosnia & Herzegovina and businessman who has spent a few months behind bars in Sarajevo and who is wanted by Interpol, is cross-examined by an investigative judge in a cell in Belgrade Central Prison, Serbia is shaken by another grand scandal.

On the one side there is New Democracy (ND) and its leader who is at the same time the Minister of internal affairs Dusan Mihajlovic, the Democratic Party (DS) with its leaders - president of the party and Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, advisor of federal minister of internal affairs and vice-president of the party Goran Vesic - and Djindjic's advisor and member of the Republican State Security Council Zoran Janjusevic. On the other - should anyone be surprised - the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) who is represented by its leader and President of FR Yugoslavia Vojislav Kostunica, businessman Zoran Drakulic and Momir Mandic as financiers of this party and Kostunica's advisor for the media Aleksandar Tijanic.

The Delimustafic case has two main lines. Djindjic, Mihajlovic and their supporters claim that DSS and Kostunica, while giving tirades on lawfulness and the legal state, make dubious deals with even more dubious Sarajevan businessman. And vice versa - the latter are doing their best to convince the public that the Government of Serbia is using even secret police to disqualify and defame its opponents. The public opinion is divided: depending on their own political option, people support one or the other protagonists in the case; the number of those who think both parties are right is not small either.

The scandal is proceeding through determining who met Delimustafic while he stayed in Serbia under a false name. In DS's statement it is claimed that it was "proved” that the former Bosnian minister "worked in the premises he rented from a prominent member of DSS and the financier of that party Zoran Drakulic". The latter denied this and enclosed "the invoice for the lease of the mentioned premises issued on January 28 by bankruptcy manager of the leaser of Belgrade Shipyard, Zoran Janjusevic to Astro Technologies enterprise". After that Djindjic accused Tijanic of having met Delimustafic twice. Kostunica struck back at his press conference with the allegation that, in fact, the person who should be asked about the business deals and connections of the Sarajevan businessman who is a fugitive was Janjusevic himself who used to be "his subordinate in Sarajevo" and "the prominent member of ND Aleksandar Vasiljevic".

After that Janjusevic distributed documents to journalists that show that he had not been in B&H police but in special units of the Ministry of the interior of Republika Srpska, and as for the invoice of Astro Technologies he said he knew nothing about it and that having been the bankruptcy manager of the Shipyard it was his duty to "prolong the lease to firms". At the same time ND denied that Vasiljevic had met Delimustafic - according to the statement, the general had met with the former minister of police, but that was back in 1992 in the line of duty while he was the head of security department of the Yugoslav People's Army...

This is the essence of the accusations, denials and counter-accusations. There is no use of wasting words about the accompanying exchange of insults. In this context Tijanic (who admitted the two "meetings" with Delimustafic: "we had drinks together and nothing more") and Vesic have become the proverbial couple for dragging each other through the political mud. The new element that overshadowed the entertainment of the general public in yellow press are Mihajlovic's statements that "there has never been a major scandal in Serbia without some new member of DSS and its financier being involved" and that this party is a "sect of dangerous intentions". DSS has been abusing and calling the minister of internal affairs to account for months: it is possible that he has lost his temper and control; it is also possible that he has announced the final showdown between the former partners in Democratic Opposition of Serbia, the showdown in which the opposed parties will use all possible means and have no mercy. In any case when the head of the police publicly accuses some party the least that can result from it is a feeling of uneasiness. It is therefore not surprising that high official of DSS like Dragan Marsicanin, who is the victim of a serious and extremely impermissible attack on his privacy in Nacional journal, accused the state security department of the MUP of Serbia of tailing the leaders of his party and tapping their phones.

Determining who, when and where met Delimustafic is aimed at discovering corruption on a big scale, as presented, at the expense of Kostunica's party. The Republican state security council has discussed the case and decided that "contacts of Delimustafic with the persons who are at high economic, political and state posts in Belgrade must be investigated in detail, because the case has serious economic, security and political dimensions especially if one takes into account Delimustafic's c.v. and his post of the minister of internal affairs in the Government in Sarajevo during the war".

There is a reason for this reaching out for war activities: except for Delimustafic's stay in Serbia with false papers, the public is not informed what Delimustafic actually did in the sense of law. Therefore, for as long as the investigation does not offer actual details, the attention was held by suspicion of war crimes. When Goran Vesic raised this question, the Hague Tribunal and Army Prosecutor’s Office announced that they had nothing against the former Bosnian minister of internal affairs. But, this was not the end: Borisav Pelevic, President of the Party of Serb Unity (SSJ) and comrade-in-arms of the best known Serb para-military commander Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan, got in the middle of the scandal when he claimed that he possessed the document that showed that through certain officers of the Army of Yugoslavia Delimustafic had purchased ammunition from Prvi partizan factory in Uzice for the army of Bosnia & Herzegovina during the war... The authorities are investigating this, and the promised statement of the manager of this factory is still not coming, although there should be no doubt that various “businessmen” from both sides of the Drina traded with death during the war in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Pelevic of all people should know that extremely well.

When the scandal seemed to have reached its peak, it suddenly died down. All at once there were no more new statements, accusations or insults. At Vojislav Kostunica’s initiative, heads of army and state security services met with the President of FR Yugoslavia himself and Serbia’s minister of police Dusan Mihajlovic. They concluded that it would be a good idea to establish the federal council of national security which would coordinate work of federal intelligence services with those in Serbia and Montenegro. Since neither the Montenegrins nor the representatives of the Investigation and Documentation Service (the intelligence service of the Foreign Ministry) were present, not the federal minister of internal affairs Zoran Zivkovic, hardly anyone believes that this initiative will be fruitful. More important than this is the decision that in the future state officials will not reveal data reached by investigations that are still in progress. Or to put it simply – don’t you threaten me with the Republican State security service (controlled by Djindjic) because I’ll return the balance with Counter-Intelligence Service (of the Army of Yugoslavia from Kostunica’s domain). Once this gentlemen’s agreement was reached, the Delimustafic scandal stepped out of the limits of the split in DOS in the past few days. But not for long. It will be on the front pages again as soon as a new immediate cause appears. And there should be no doubt that it will very easily be found.

Philip Schwarm