Kosovo Serbs US described as criminals are known to Belgrade institutions

NEWS 09.12.2021 21:47
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Source: N1/Agencije/screenshot

Commenting on the US Treasury Department press release describing Kosovo Serb businessmen as leaders of an organised crime group, Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic said the country's institutions would investigate the allegations.

Vucic denied his ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) received a penny from Zvonko Veselinovic, his brother Zarko, or Milan Radoicic, Zeljko Bojic, and Marko Rosic, also mentioned by the Treasury Department.

The US Department of Treasury’s press release published n Wednesday was titled ‘Northern Kosovo-Based Transnational Organized crime: Zvonko Veselinovic and his Organized Crime Group.’

It said that the group „has also conspired with various politicians in several quid pro quo agreements, including the early 2019 bribery of Kosovar security officials to allow their smuggling operations between Serbia and Kosovo and the late 2017 bribery of Kosovar border security officials to allow safe passage for smugglers.“

Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, said that a selfie of Zvonko Veselinovic and Vucic’s brother Andrej was made during the SNS 2014 election campaign in an advertising agency.

„He (Veselinovic) was arrested in the early 2000s for heroin smuggling but was released. After that, his business with trucks and road construction rose. He has made a lot of progress in about ten years,“ Crime and Corruption Reporting Network, KRIK, journalist Bojana Pavlovic said.

She added that „an investigation against Zvonko Veselinovic started in 2011. Serbia’s Security Information Agency (BIA) sent a report to the prosecutor’s office. It marked him as a high-ranking member, i.e. the leader of an organised criminal group that smuggles, primarily oil, then drugs, weapons, from Kosovo to Serbia and vice versa. The inquiry was closed, and instead, a procedure for embezzlement with trucks and leasing was initiated against Veselinovic and his best friend Milan Radoicic. That was the first case against them together. However, they were released.“

„What we know about them is that some investigations against them have been launched for years and that they have been freed every time,“ Pavlovic said.

At the same time, their ‘Inkop’ company profit rose 80 times, according to the Belgrade NIN weekly’s article in November 2020.

According to investigative websites, ‘ Inkop’ got lucrative jobs, among others, on Corridor 11. Veselinovic was said to have participated in the illegal excavation of gravel for Corridor 10, sharing the earnings from that job with his best friend, Radoicic.

Radio Free Europe (RFE) reported that the RAD company from northern Kosovo, also mentioned in the US document, won a total of 61 jobs worth 5.6 million euros within projects financed by Kosovo’s Government from August 2018 to September 2021.

The US Treasury Department press release said that „additionally, Veselinovic and his group were indicted for alleged involvement in the murder of an opposition political party leader Oliver Ivanovic in January 2018. Veselinovic and fellow members of the OCG, Radoicic, Bojic and Rosic were all named in the indictment for the murder, each serving their role in the assassination for the criminal enterprise.“

Radoicic fled to Serbia ahead of the Kosovo police raid in the northern part mostly populated by the local Serbs and reportedly passed a polygraph test about the allegation of taking part in Ivanovic’s murder.

Vucic then said: „He could not cheat the polygraph because he failed on some other topics, but he passed the polygraph about Ivanovic’s murder. “ The other ‘topics’ were never revealed.

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