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April 24, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 186
Arrest in Subotica

The Speaker, The District Chief, His Wife and Her Money

by Ivan Radovanovic

The most logical explanation for events in Subotica when the local district chief resigned and his wife ended up in jail came from officials. Having heard that a VREME reporter was in Subotica, local trade union council chairman Milenko Smiljanic offered his opinion:

"Everything was clear at first. Someone refused to pay racketeering charges to someone else and he came under attack. That became clear when Radoman Bozovic came to Subotica to pressure the poor man into resigning out of moral reasons. Bozovic and morality, that's so cynical!"

So that's the funny side of the story which began late last year when Ljiljana Bozinovic was arrested, wife of Dragan the local district chief, on charges of abusing her position, forging documents. Ljiljana got two months of jail at once, Dragan Bozinovic said he didn't know what his wife had been doing.

Sources at the local prosecutor's office said the whole thing is legally clear. Ljiljana borrowed money, took it abroad and forgot to pay her debts. So the thing seems clear.

Dragan Bozinovic's career started with a director's post at the Subotica garbage dump. Where he got hold of Radoman Bozovic we don't know but soon they joined forces and when Radoman left to become Vojvodina local government chairman, Dragan became Subotica local government chief.

His wife had a parallel career, she is know in Subotica as a financial expert. An unofficial report from an official source said things started happening then: the Vojvodina provincial government sent money to the Subotica city government to renew production. The man in Subotica phones the company whose money it really is and suggests the payment be made through his wife's company. Then Ljiljana gets the money, pays the factory some of it to cover salaries, keeps most of it to spin around, pays the factory a little bit more later and the circle continues. The profits are huge. Mrs. Bozinovic managed to earn enough to buy several houses, apartments and cars and there is a rumor of companies in Hungary.

The affair unraveled when a scandal broke in the Zorka Holding company in Subotica. Around 30 people ended up in jail over purchases and sales of fertilizer. The company almost folded up but the Subotica mayor stepped in demanding that all debts to Zorka be paid so employees could get their salaries. One of the debtors was Ljiljana Bozinovic.

Smiljanic said union figures showed Ljiljana then attacked the local dairy (70,000 dinars returned while she was in jail) and Auro Metal ( a kilo of gold worth 60,000 dinars not returned). The result: the dairy is doing OK, Zorka is tense and nervous, and Auro Metal is in serious trouble because it needs the gold to make jewelry.

The rumor in Subotica is that Ljiljana also borrowed money from state owned companies but that's not the point.

The woman said she was going to get into trouble because of her husband.

Dragan Bozinovic was highly insensitive and arrogant during his successful political career. There are claims that he would send the financial police to companies that refused to do business with his wife and that often threatened people with arrests.

As a politician, his fame comes from the many visits by Zeljko Raznjatovic Arkan that he organized and fierce duels with mayor Jozef Kasa. Kasa doesn't want to discuss him and just made a short statement for VREME: "I don't want to comment, especially now that things are drawing to an end. That would be inhuman. A political opponent should be respected and time will show everything."

Sources close to the authorities said Bozinovic was known for his good ties to Bozovic and Radmilo Bogdanovic who used those two trump cards often.

There's a theory that Bozinovic and his wife are victims of infighting in the SPS. Subotica SPS regional board chief Dusan Stipanovic commented: "There was some arguing, some turbulence. The SPS issued a statement late last year supporting the fight against crime and said high ranking posts could not be held by people with any kind of monopoly. But we left it to everyone's personal sense of morality. I personally, wanted Bozinovic to resign earlier but he said the investigation would show his wife is innocent. Then he decided to resign."

Stipanovic didn't say but the public knows that the SPS meeting when Bozinovic resigned was held in the presence of Bozovic and human rights minister Margit Savovic.

Bozinovic is due to take up a post at the Vojvodina provincial government and is keeping quiet about everything. His secretary said he can't see reporters and well informed sources in Subotica added that he still has some privileges. He can visit his wife whenever he wants to; the warden is an SPS member.

Ljiljana should get out soon. She certainly won't have problems in Subotica because most people like her. They say she was generous and bought apartments for her employees and sent their kids to school abroad.

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