Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic's office on Tuesday strongly denied allegations in the Croatian Nacional weekly which said that it had an audio-recording indicating that Djukanovic could in fact be the person who ordered the assassination of the weekly's chief editor Ivo Pukanic.
Nacional on Tuesday reported that twelve years after Pukanic's murder a "prison audio recording has suddenly emerged indicating who ordered the assassination."
Nacional has a recording of a phone conversation in which Sreten Jocic aka Joca Amsterdam reveals why he hasn't incriminated Djukanovic, the weekly says, noting that it is making public how the recording first fell into the hands of Bosnian police and later arrived in Croatia and why the person who recorded Jocic's conversation has reported him over threats.
Djukanovic's office claims that the article in the Nacional is just "recycling a lie" which it had already published once and then retracted.
"The front page of the Nacional weekly about President Milo Djukanovic's involvement in the murder of Ivo Pukanic is untrue and is a recycling of a lie that was released eight years ago and was immediately retracted by those who made it up, including Sreten Jocic himself, who has in the meantime been acquitted of the charges of murdering the owner of Nacional," Djukanovic's office said.
The police in Serbia, during the term of the government led by Boris Tadic, pressured Jocic to commit perjury and falsely accuse Djukanovic so that Montenegro and its leadership could be discredited, Djukanovic's office added.
At the time the paper was revealed as an instrument in a campaign to criminalise Djukanovic which various intelligence-media centres have been conducting for the past 20 years, the office said.
Ahead of the twelfth anniversary of Pukanic's death, "Nacional recycles this sensationalist lie from 2012" to increase its sales, Djukanovic's office concluded.
Ivo Pukanic and his colleague Niko Franic were murdered on 23 October 2008 in Nacional's parking lot. The murder in downtown Zagreb disturbed the public, which resulted in an energetic police operation leading to the arrest of eight people.
In two separate trials - one before Zagreb County Court and the other before the Special Court in Belgrade, Robert and Luka Matanic, Zeljko Milovanovic, Bojan Guduric, Slobodan Djurovic and Amir Mafalani were sentenced for Pukanic's murder while Jocic was acquitted following an appeal.
To date, the mastermind of the murder and the motive have not been identified.