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August 2, 1997
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 304
The Hague in the Montenegrin’s Disputes

Only Pavle?

by Aleksandar Ciric

At the end of September 1992, the minister of internal affairs of Montenegro Nikola Pejakovic, officially informs Mrs. Danijela Stupar-Titoric that her husband Alemko from Novo Sarajevo had been arrested in Herceg-Novi on May 26, 1992, and that he and 34 arrested were handed to "the authorized officers of SUP from Srebrenica, Petar Mitrovic and Predrag Perendic", to be thereafter transferred on the same day to the "military police of the tewritorial defense staff in Bratunac, where he is to join a group of Moslems to be exchanged for the captive Serbian soldiers", and that she should contact "the ministry of internal affairs of the Serbian Republic of BIH" for further information about her husband.

At that time, the Hague was only a convenient word for crossword puzzles. In the Montenegrin leadership, key personalities were much more conveniently distributed than "the young, handsome and clever" are organized today. Apparently, something has gone wrong at present, and skeletons have started dropping out of the closets of the former and the present Montenegrin authorities.

Montenegrin republica prosecutor Vlado Susovic, who held that office in 1992 as well, announced several days ago that the Tribunal in the Hague is interested in Pavle Bulatovic’s activities from the time when he used to be the minister in charge of the Montenegrin police, before he became the federal minister of internal affairs, and later the federal minister of defense.

Right after having published a copy of Pejakovic’s letter on April 18, 1994, VREME was contacted by reader from Podgorica, Mitar Krstanovic, who claimed that "what was signed by minister Pejakovic was, in fact, done by the former first man of the Montenegrin police, currently the minister of defense in the federal government, Pavle Bulatovic. He was the one who hunted down people because they were Moslems and then cynically turned them over as hostages to the Serbs from Bosnia."

Was he the only one? The former minister of police Pejakovic had asked, in coordination with then and current Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, for information about the fate of the captives from Srdja Bozovic, the former deputy speaker of the Montenegrin Parliament (at present, he is the speaker of the Chamber of Citizens in the Parliament of FRY). He did not get an answer.

Amidst the revealing of the scandal, in mid 1994, Momir Bulatovic did not give the promised statement to the Vreme weekly. Vlado Susovic had nothing to say, and the minister of justice, Filip Vujanovic (currently the Montenegrin minister of internal affairs) did not know "what to say about the letter of the minister Pejakovic, because the action described in the incriminated letter had nothing to do with the judiciary system, nor with the institutions supervised by the ministry of justice."

Suspicions about the dishonorable actions, dangerously close to the serious violation of the Hague Convention (delivering refugees to the party at war of another state) has influenced very much the forming of the parliamentary commission. It found out that on May 27, 1992, 34 men were delivered to the Serbian police in Srebrenica, most of them Moslems, of the age of 19 to 54. Along with the personal data of the delivered men, the names of the policemen and of the truck drivers, the numbers of the travel orders and authorizations for the transportation of the prisoners were published ( VREME, no. 181, April 11, 1994).

However, it was discovered that there were also other "takeovers" of the human cargo, and that the paramilitary and police forces of the Bosnian Serbs participated in them, undisturbed. For example, the Montenegrin police delivered to the police from Foca 40 men from 18 to 66 years of age, and on the same day, May 19, 1992, the police from Pljevlja delivered seven refugees to the police from Cajnice, at the border crossing Metaljka. The names of 85 deported men were published, but one can be almost certain that those lists are not complete.

Nikola Pejakovic explained to the commission that, at that time (1992), claims for the delivery opened the dilemma, but that the decision about the extradition was brought upon consulting "the authorized prosecuting institution".

At the time of deportation, Pavle Bulatovic was the acting minister of internal affairs of Montenegro, who has himself announced (on July 21, 1992) the existence of the claim from SAO Herzegovina for the delivery of all citizens between 16 and 60 years of age, on the basis of which "certain number of persons was returned, some from the border, and some from the territory of Montenegro; the Serbian party has treated them correctly, unless some of them have done criminal acts."

At the same occasion and at the same place, Momir Bulatovic confirmed that the refugees had been returned to BIH, but that this practice has been discontinued. At the beginning of the summer 1992, deportation has, it seems, been discontinued, and the year later the parliamentary commission was not so accurate as in the beginning. It is not known who and how has persuaded the Montenegrin government to cease deliveries of refugees.

It is known that the frequent guest of Pavle Bulatovic, while he was the chief of the Montenegrin police, was Mihalj Kertes, who together with Maksim Korac, Bulatovic’s aide, used Montenegro as the base for his special missions in Herzegovina. Officially, however, prosecutor Vlado Susevic - according to his own words - could not get the documents about the police actions of seizing and handing over the refugees, and his job was additionally complicated by the fact that he has learned about them "from the newspapers".

The impression about the attempt to hush down the serious criminal acts and the violation of the international law is indirectly confirmed by the statement of Momir Bulatovic to VREME (no. 184, May 2, 1994): "Some international humanitarian organizations which deal with the protection of human rights and some newspapers have just recalled the big mistake which happened at the beginning of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. As soon as the Montenegrin government learned about the mistake, the practice of handing over refugees was immediately discontinued.

Our investigation into the criminal law regulations has shown that the man who was in charge at that time has acted according to then still existing practice of cooperation between the offices of internal affairs of the republics. I have to recall that before the falling apart of SFRY, there was undisturbed communication between the respective secretariats, and that upon the request of one of the republic secretariats for delivery of an individual who was wanted by the police or the criminal, it was acted upon the request, automatically.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be a tragic mistake and the tragic omission."It seemed at that time, as concluded by the Vreme’s journalist Velizar Brajovic, that "it takes a lot of civil courage to write the indictment against, for example, Pavle Bulatovic, the current minister of defense of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia." Today, three years later, it seems that the circumstances have matured for such action. Too many of the old faces are still in the game, but there are also too many of those whom this tragic mistake cost their lives.

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