Assassination of the premier: Responsibility and role of the intelligence services was never investigated

The obvious absence of political will of all the authorities in the past 13 years to completely uncover all the circumstances around the assassination of the premier of this country, Zoran Djindjic, means at the same time that the system, in which there is a connection between politics, the services and crime, was never reformed. The court proceedings for the assassination of the premier have led to verdicts against members of the Unit for Special Operations (JSO) and the criminal “Zemun clan”, but those who instigated and ordered the assassination were never discovered, nor was the role and responsibility of the services in the assassination of the premier investigated.

Despite the recommendation, made in 2003 by the commission which has investigated the omissions in the premier's security - for the performing of internal control in the Interior Ministry (MUP) and the Security and Information Agency (BIA), that control was never performed. Meanwhile, the documentation on the basis of which the commission wrote the report, remains classified as "state secret" to this day.

Eight years ago, Insajder sent a request to the Serbian government to allow us insight into this documentation, but our request was denied first by the government of Mirko Cvetkovic, and then by that of Aleksandar Vucic.

None of the services performed an assessment of the premier's security

According to investigations performed by Insajder so far, it turned out that none of the services performed an assessment of the premier's security, although, as a rule, the greater part of the job of protecting a person, about as much as 90 percent, consists of intelligence protection.

The assessment was not performed despite there having been several attempts at the premier's life. One of them, which was known immediately, happened near the Limes Arena on February 21st, 2003.

Namely, after the amending of the law in December 2002, MUP took charge of the Serbian premier's security, and should have taken over from the secret service. However, this process was delayed for unknown reasons, with the breaking of legal deadlines.

Because of this takeover, there was a several-month gap, which MUP and BIA spent in shifting responsibilities between each other. MUP formally assumed responsibility for the security of state officials only in February 2003.

The police minister at that time was Dusan Mihajlovic. Zlatko Ratnic transferred from BIA to MUP then to be the chief coordinator of the transfer of jurisdiction, but he ended up leaving MUP because of a conflict with Mihajlovic. The reason for the conflict, according to Insajder's research, was the very delay in the process of the transfer of that jurisdiction.

At the moment of the assassination, Misa Milicevic and Goran Zivaljevic were at the helm of the security service. Asked why there was no intelligence protection and how they let the assassination of the Serbian premier happen, Zivaljevic, the then deputy chief of BIA, wrote in the reply to Insajder that the tasks of securing state officials had been excluded from their jurisdiction and that MUP had full responsibility over that job at the time of the assassination.

In the series "Official Secret" from 2008, Insajder reported that BIA made a compiled report about everything that had happened, on the day of the assassination, and only then sent it to the members of the then Serbian government.

The role of the military intelligence

The report BIA delivered to the government on the day of the murder, reads, among other things, that certain officers of the Army of Yugoslavia celebrated the assassination of the premier in public.

After that, during Operation "Saber", the Macedonian service gave Serbia data from the wiretapping of the Serbian military attaché in Skopje.
According to the tapes, it turned out that Zeljko Petkovic, upon hearing from his wife that Djindjic had been assassinated, commented: "A man told me yesterday it would happen."

This information has been given to the military, but the investigation never moved in that direction.

The chief of the military security service at the time of the premier's assassination was Aco Tomic. Tomic was arrested in Operation "Saber", an indictment was even raised against him, but the prosecution dropped the case when the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) came to power in 2004. The relevant investigation bodies ignored the fact that the DSS leader, Vojislav Kostunica, wrote a message to Tomic in jail, that read: "Keep quiet and endure."

Only in 2011 did the prosecution start new proceedings about the rebellion of the Unit for Special Operations (JSO), on the basis of criminal charges pressed by lawyer Srdja Popovic, on behalf of the mother and sister of the murdered premier. Prosecutor Miljko Radisavljevic then said that the rebellion in 2001 was an introduction to the assassination in 2003, and announced that the then president of the federal state, Vojislav Kostunica, and the chief of the military security service, Aco Tomic, would be questioned in that case.

"On the same day, Kostunica held a special news conference, announcing that he would not respond to the subpoena because, as he stressed, he had nothing to do with the assassination of the Serbian premier. He described it as a repression of authority, despite the fact that members of Djindjic's government had already been questioned."

One year later, the prosecution announced that the investigation was over and that there was no evidence that would call for the questioning of Kostunica and Tomic regarding the rebellion of the JSO.

At the trial for the assassination of the premier, where he testified as a witness, Aco Tomic denied having met with Ulemek at the time of the JSO's rebellion, but confirmed that he did meet with the former commander of the JSO, Milorad Ulemek, and the leader of the "Zemun clan", Dusan Spasojevic, in 2002 and that he received a mobile phone from them as a gift at that time. It later turned out that Ulemek and Spasojevic were among the chief executors of the assassination.

Together with Tomic, the then security advisor to Vojislav Kostunica, Rade Bulatovic, was also arrested in Operation "Saber". Tomic and Bulatovic each spent three months in prison. Bulatovic charged 667,000 dinars in damages from the state for the time spent in custody, and became the director of the Security and Information Agency (BIA) when Vojislav Kostunica came to power.

"The Korac Commission attempted to find out how it came to the assassination of the premier through data from the military service, and asked the military security whether they had a file on premier Djindjic, to which they replied with an explicit negative. It ended there and the evidence about the possible involvement of individuals from that service was never considered in court."

Why are the documents of the "Korac Commission" important?

In what is publicly known as the "Korac Commission" report, published several months after the assassination of the premier, it was recommended, among other things, that an investigation is conducted into the responsibility of MUP and BIA regarding the assassination.
After almost 13 years, there has been no such investigation.

The report also included several alarming assessments of the situation, among others - that the system had not functioned in keeping with the laws and regulations. The Korac Commission report also contains conclusions on the basis of numerous testimonies and documents which are still kept secret.

32 people testified before the Korac Commission, including members of BIA and MUP, whose names are secret. It is interesting that none of this data ever appeared in public, not even at the trial for the assassination of Zoran Djindjic.

"The conclusions of the Commission on the basis of evidence which is still secret, are best described by the statement of the chairman of the Commission, Zarko Korac, who said that he was sorry that the prosecution never pressed criminal charges 'against some people who deserved it', because he was convinced that there were at least elements of 'criminal negligence'."

In view of the fact that the recommendation of the Commission about an investigation within BIA and MUP was never carried out, the importance of publishing the documents on the basis of which the Korac Commission wrote the report is even greater.

Only in that way, in the absence of an official investigation and court proceedings, would the role of the secret services in the assassination of the Serbian premier be clearer, but also their responsibility in it.

The murder of the premier was a political one. The only way to establish the complete truth and the political background of that murder is the complete unveiling of each, even the smallest detail in connection with it.

Insajder continues to cover this topic.

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