Mladic hiding at Topcider?1
by Duško Vukajlovic
‘The security chief of the Guard brigade at Topčider is lieutenant-colonel Branislav Puhač, a member of the Drina group in Republika Srpska and General Mladić’s personal bodyguard for the past ten years. Mladić’s Senta.2 Well, just work out for yourself where Mladić might be’, said Vladimir ‘Beba’ Popović, former press spokesman for the government of the late Zoran Đinđić, on last night’s instalment of the TV B92 serial Insajder [Insider]. ‘It’s no secret that the Army is protecting Mladić, and keeping tabs on him’, said Popović. ‘If you recall, even Pavković3 acknowledged this in an indirect way, when he said at a certain moment that: "It has been over a month since we took away his passes" - but that they were still keeping tabs on him.’ He noted that the government of the time had taken no action on the occasion of this admission, because the then president of FRY Vojislav Koštunica ‘didn’t want that’. In response to a comment to the effect that in his eyes Koštunica was now to blame for everything, Popović said: ‘I haven’t accused him for the water shortage in Vranje, but because the Army was sheltering Mladić. Because Zoran [Đinđić] once went to see him and told him:"Hey, do you know that they’re protecting Mladić?", and he answered: "I know, but that’s out of bounds". How can he not be to blame?’, Popović concluded. He claims that Nebojša Pavković, after he had been dismissed, gave the government details about how in 2002 Aco Tomić used to meet Mladić ‘somewhere here round Belgrade, on some motorway or other’, and how ‘a number of Cobras’ were protecting him.4 ‘Topčider is a nest of war criminals’, says Beba Popović. ‘Not those indicted by The Hague, but the ones who for the past ten years have killed and destroyed from Vukovar to Dubrovnik. They’re all there, the most radical and the most brazen. It’s not surprising that a tragedy should have occurred there. And to cut a long story short, you must know who commander Ćosić is, and who Bojović is - those worshippers of the life and works of Slobodan Milošević.’5 Popović talked last night about the destruction of state security files after 5 October. Asked how it was possible that no one from the government of Serbia knew that evidence existed that the state security service had systematically destroyed part of its files for the period from 1998 to 2000, he said that he ‘doesn’t believe that no one knew’, and that ‘a large number of politicians had been informed of it and had immediately dropped the issue, but not because they needed to protect anybody.’ When asked who those politicians were, he replied: ‘The minister of police or the executive arm within the government. Zoran Mijatović and Goran Petrović did everything they could do and handed it all over the public prosecutor.6 The problem is with the prosecution service and judiciary in this country. Whatever you give them, they say: "There’s not enough here to get our teeth into". This question is one for the prosecutor at the time, who got it all from the police, where there was proof black on white, but he didn’t start any investigation.’
This report has been translated from the daily Blic (Belgrade), 8 February 2005
1. Topčider is a popular park in southern Belgrade, under which lies a complex of bunkers constructed by the JNA during the Tito period, bombed by NATO during the war over Kosova.
2. Senta Milenković was Milošević’s presidential bodyguard, later promoted to the rank of general in the interior ministry.
3. Nebojša Pavković, former chief of staff of the Serbian army, indicted in 2003 by the Hague tribunal for war crimes in Kosova but at large in Serbia until he gave himself up on 22 April 2005.
4. General Aco Tomić is the former head of Serbia’s military intelligence (KOS) Cobra units are among Serbia’s ‘special forces’.
5. Colonel Radomir Ćosić was commander of the Guard brigade in the Serbian army until November 2004; General Milivoje Bojović was its commander under Milošević.
6. Zoran Mijatović and Goran Petrović are both former state security officials.