Skip to main content
March 6, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 179
Colonel Stojadinovic on Trial

Farewell My Drummer Boy

by Dejan Anastasijevic

"I'm not surprised. The sentence was passed under orders to protect the non-existent moral integrity of president Zoran Lilic," colonel Ljubodrag Stojadinovic, former chief of the general staff information psychological propaganda service, said after his active career was ended over insubordination and damaging the reputation of the VJ and the federal president. Is that the end of the latest series of unpleasant scandals shaking the army top brass over the past few years? It seems to more of a beginning.

Stojadinovic's court martial was held on March 1 in the VJ general staff building and set a precedent if only because it was held in public. The army authorities allowed the press in seemingly to show that they had nothing to fear. Formally, Stojadinovic faced the court martial soon after he was dismissed from his post because of an open letter to Lilic in NIN weekly in which he accused the president of covering up crimes (general Bora Ivanovic, Digest 173 and 177).

The prosecutor said that Stojadinovic had gone over his direct superior (VJ chief Momcilo Perisic) by addressing the chairman of the supreme defence council in violation of article seven of the VJ regulations. The letter itself inflicted damage on Lilic and the VJ in violation of article 160, sub article 10, of the law on the VJ. The damage to Lilic is questionable but Stojadinovic did violate army regulations. Prosecutor colonel Dragoljub Neskovic had an easy job. Stojadinovic was aware of that. Reporters asked if he had brought whiskey in case they exonerate him and he replied: "No, they'll sentence me for sure."

He was right. His defence was based on a shaky theory that the army regulations are unconstitutional because they deprive him of the right to address the head of state and the conclusion that the mounds of documents proving Ivanovic's crimes show that Lilic damaged the VJ's reputation more than anyone else when he pardoned and promoted him. The court was not about to debate Ivanovic and the only thing in question was the sentence itself. There were six things the court could do: stop Stojadinovic's promotions for three years; cut his salary by 20%; jail him for 20 days; dismiss him from the army and ban him from an appointment for three years; throw him out of the army or take his rank. The court choose the second heaviest punishment having taken into consideration his brilliant career, a statement said.

The real cause of Stojadinovic's dismissal should be sought in the events over the ban on the Camera Recalls serial which aired tapes of phone conversations between police and army leaders. Those tapes were owned by the army before they were aired, formally Stojadinovic was in charge of them. The serial and the colonel were banned almost parallelly. Stojadinovic carefully nurtured a career as a journalist along with his army career and he had the reputation of an officer who was too clever for his own good. When he allowed himself to fall foul of Lilic he was first in line for execution.

Stojadinovic's career is most probably over. The career of general Bora Ivanovic isn't. It's sad that no one learned anything from the whole thing. New scandals are waiting to happen and don't anyone say they are surprised.

© Copyright VREME NDA (1991-2001), all rights reserved.