Former Mladic associates hold top positions in Republika Srpska
Author: Slobodna Bosna
Uploaded: Monday, 07 March, 2011
BBC Monitoring (European) translation of an investigative report in the Sarajevo weekly Slobodna Bosna on the ubiquitous presence of former Mladic associates in the security structures of RS and B-H
While General Ratko Mladic, the most wanted Hague indictee, is sought by the international ‘headhunters’, his most loyal officers and generals, who have been retired for over 10 years, regularly occupy posts in the most relevant institutions of Republika Srpska and of Bosnia-Herzegovina! Although they already receive high pensions, the salaries for their advisory and other senior jobs amount to several thousands of convertible marks [KM].
So, for instance, retired Colonel Djuro Beronja has been, for a few years, the security policy adviser for B-H Presidency member Nebojsa Radmanovic, where he receives a salary of around KM3,000; he also receives a disability allowance, as a person suffering from PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. Beronja is a former intelligence agent; well-informed sources argue that, as a proven counter-intelligence agent, he became a member of the former 410th intelligence centre. During his engagement in the Yugoslav People's Army [JNA], and later, in the RS army, he conducted a job connected with the wiretapping of telecommunications. By using his influence, he enabled his godfather Colonel Rade Simic, a member of the B-H Armed Forces, to become an army representative of Bosnia-Herzegovina at NATO Headquarters in Naples.
In our research on which of Mladic's former intelligence agents and closest officers are engaged in the institutions of Bosnia-Herzegovina and RS, we found out some astonishing data. For instance, retired Colonel Rano Pepic has been an adviser to RS Interior Minister Stanislav Cadjo for years now. He received from former RS President Rajko Kuzmanovic the Milos Obilic medal last year for ‘demonstrating a high level of professionalism.’ His colleague Colonel Dusko Cetkovic is an adviser for social (!?) activities to RS President Milorad Dodik. General Cvjetko Savic, the last chief of staff in the RS Army Supreme Headquarters, was hired by the RS government's secretariat for cooperation with the Hague tribunal, and he is deputy director of the RS centre for war-crime investigations. Meanwhile, General Dragomir Keserovic is chairman of the committee for security issues in the B-H Bank Association.
Colonel Rajko Ckonjovic is head of the directorate for the arms trade. Colonels Mirko Trivic and Rajko Kecman are employed in the RS Directorate for Civilian Protection. General Stamenko Novakovic was recruited into the B-H Armed Forces, while Colonel Mile Panic is employed in the RS Tax Administration. Let us focus briefly on their wartime biographies and the merits of some of them.
During the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, General Dragomir Keserovic was in the Security Administration of the RS Army Supreme Headquarters; the chief of staff in this administration was Ljubisa Beara, who was sentenced to life imprisonment before the Hague tribunal last year, for the genocide at Srebrenica.
Keserovic is currently chairman of the security issues committee, which was formed within the B-H Bank Association. This retired colonel was also assistant defence minister in the RS Government. High Representative Paddy Ashdown removed him from the post of the chief of staff in the RS Army's Intelligence Administration in 2004, for active support to and hiding of war-crime suspects. He was also banned from holding any public office. Keserovic is still on the black list. Meanwhile, he became a lecturer at the Synergy Faculty in Banja Luka. He acquired his master's and doctoral degrees at Belgrade's Faculty for Security Affairs, like the majority of his officer and intelligence agent colleagues. Well-informed sources argue that Keserovic is influential in the B-H Armed Forces through his nephew Major Nevenko Vranjes, who is a military intelligence agent. A few years ago, he even ensured for Vranjes the profitable long-term job of military representative of Bosnia-Herzegovina at the respectable RACVIAC military and security centre in Zagreb. Vranjes also acquired a master's degree, five years ago, naturally at Belgrade's Security Faculty.
It is also curious to examine Keserovic's counterintelligence activity with the 410th intelligence centre. Jurisdiction over the 410th intelligence centre was in the hands of the RS Intelligence Administration, which was controlled by the RS Army Supreme Headquarters, the Defence Ministry, and the president of the Supreme Defence Council, viz. the RS president. After Dragan Cavic took over the president's office, he worked intensively on strengthening the army bodies in RS and control over them, and he appointed to leading posts people who were loyal to him. So he appointed Colonel Dragomir Keserovic as head of the Intelligence Administration; Cavic knew Keserovic from the time when Cavic was in the military police and Keserovic was his superior. He wanted to appoint counterintelligence agent Keserovic, who was very loyal to General Ratko Mladic, as head of the RS Army Supreme Headquarters, instead of Momir Zec, who had to leave office for hiding the facts concerning the Orao [Eagle] scandal. However, the international community prevented Keserovic's appointment to this post.
What did SFOR discover in the 410th Centre?
At the time when SFOR [Stabilization Force] raided the 410th Centre, including the detachment in Bijeljina, and seized the archives of this centre, Colonel Keserovic, who was head of the Intelligence Administration, sneaked out through the back door and escaped with a briefcase full of documents through a hole in the fence. Detailed analysis of the work of this centre shows their involvement in all the postwar intelligence affairs in RS. We will mention the Pauk [spider] affair, during which a group of Serb intelligence agents, Mladic's former escort and the butchers from Srebrenica, was uncovered; they also worked for the French intelligence service. There was another scandal, on which occasion it was discovered that the RS air force was eavesdropping electronically on SFOR, through the radar centre in Lisina, near Banja Luka. Seized floppy discs contained reports from NATO headquarters in Brussels, as well as information about connections with certain French officers and Russian diplomats, through whom they acquired information about the plans of the international forces against Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Despite the obvious evidence about their spying activities, the international community did not sanction the then senior army officials of RS.
However, a year later Keserovic testified before the Hague tribunal in his capacity as RS assistant defence minister, when he stated that Ratko Mladic had ordered the transfer of the imprisoned Srebrenica Bosniaks to Bratunac in 1995.
Keserovic, who was a former senior security officer in the main headquarters of the RS Army, stated this as a defence witness in the trial of former RS Army Colonel Vidoje Blagojevic, who was indicted for taking part in the Srebrenica genocide. According to the indictment and the earlier sentences pronounced by the Hague tribunal, around 7,000 Muslim captives were transported to Bratunac at the time when the RS Army entered the enclave, on 11 July 1995. They were then transported to an area near Zvornik, where the RS Army shot them in an organized manner. Keserovic told the story how, on 17 July 1995, he had heard from Serb army Major Malinic, in Nova Kasaba village, that ‘between 2,000 and 3,000 captives were transported from the village soccer field to Bratunac.’ ‘He told me that this order was issued by Main Headquarters Commander General Mladic, who addressed the captives while going through the village,’ Keserovic said. He confirmed that the RS Army bodies had never launched an investigation about what had happened to the captives from Srebrenica.
After his name was put on Ashdown's list, Keserovic got a job in Banja Luka's Nova Bank, and, in the past few years he has been chairman of the security committee within the B-H Banking Association; he is absolutely familiar with all security procedures in the B-H banks and he acts instructively.
Fellow-fighters of Zdravko Tolimir
Colonels Janko Kecman and Mirko Trivic are employed in the RS Civilian Protection Directorate. Colonel Trivic was wartime commander of the Second Romanija Brigade in the RS Army. This brigade took part in the Krivaja 95 operation against Srebrenica in July 1995, when over 7,000 Bosniaks were murdered. Trivic was head of one of the combat units which were formed for the Krivaja 95 operation, and he entered Srebrenica on 11 July 1995, right before Mladic and his escort.
Trivic testified before the Hague tribunal, two months ago, in the trial of General Zdravko Tolimir, Mladic's former assistant for intelligence and security issues at the RS Army’s main headquarters. Trivic also testified at the trial of seven officers of the Bosnian Serb army and police, who were convicted (at the first-instance level) for crimes at Srebrenica and Zepa. Tolimir was also accused of these crimes. On this occasion, Trivic testified that the Serb forces undertook the Krivaja 95 operation of seizing the Srebrenica enclave, because of the loss that they had suffered previously.
In December last year, Trivic agreed with Tolimir in the Hague courtroom that, in fact, the B-H leadership was to blame for the fall of Srebrenica. Although he argued that the operation was ‘provoked’ by attacks from B-H Army troops, Trivic said that the nature of the activities by RS Army units during the operation against Srebrenica ‘could be described as chasing rather than preventing the soldiers of the 28th division to leave the enclave.’
Trivic is one of the biggest investors in Banja Luka and he is financing the construction of high-rise buildings on the most attractive locations in the town. The city regulatory plan has been changed due to his megalomaniac projects. He is the owner of the notorious San Remo pizzeria in Banja Luka, where the most frequent clientele are former and current intelligence and secret-service agents. He is the only distributor of Lacoste clothes in RS.
Colonel Dusko Cetkovic has been for years an adviser to the RS president. He was an adviser during Kuzmanovic's term, and he is an adviser to Milorad Dodik. According to the B-H Armed Force's documentation, during the establishment of the joint Defence Ministry, while he was the commander of the RS Army's logistic base in Doboj, he took part in illegal activities involving large amounts of oil, which he in fact delivered to the then regime of Milorad Dodik. A few years later, he was rewarded for this by getting the post of adviser in the RS president's office.
Colonel Milorad Bukva is director of the Donja Gradina public company in Bosanska Dubica; this company is in charge of protecting the memorial complex, which was erected in memory of the victims of Ustasha crimes during World War II. During the aggression on Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bukva was chief security officer for the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, and he was informed about all the details of crimes committed in the Sarajevo area. Somewhat later, he became Mladic's main security man, under whose command captured Bosniaks and Croats were interrogated to exhaustion, tortured, and murdered. During and after the war, Milorad Bukva was the immediate boss of Colonel Stevan Dakic, an army intelligence officer in the B-H Armed Forces. He was known for the fact that two years ago, during a trip to Hilandar [Serbian Orthodox monastery in Greece], he visited a room that had pictures of war criminal Ratko Mladic on the wall. Dakic had a photo taken of himself by that picture, but he was never sanctioned for that. On the contrary, he was promoted soon afterwards, thanks to acquiring a master's degree at Belgrade's Security Faculty, which is known for being under the influence of the Serbian security services. As employees of the RS Army, Cetkovic and Bukva received salaries from Belgrade, via the so-called 30th personnel centre, for a long time. Officer Milomir Grajic, the current head of the department in the sector for intelligence and security affairs of the B-H Defence Ministry, was the head of artillery in the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps during 1992 and 1993; some of the worst crimes committed against the citizens of Sarajevo were done under his command. RS Army Generals Stanislav Galic and Dragomir Milosevic were convicted at the The Hague for crimes caused by the shelling of civilian targets. However, Grajic has remained unpunished to date, despite the fact that he was the main person in charge of artillery. When he realized the extent of the crimes committed against the citizens of Sarajevo, Grajic left the RS Army, at the end of 1993, and he took over a post in the executive authority at Sokolac. He was a secretary in the RS Defence Ministry, but informed sources argue that Grajic was a proven counterintelligence agent and a former member of the 410th intelligence centre.
Colonel Ckonjovic influential arms trader
Retired Colonel Rajko Ckonjovic is also a cadre of the 410th intelligence centre. During the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, he headed the headquarters of the 27th Brigade of the Krajina Corps. He was retired by the RS Army, but this does not stop him from currently working as director of the Directorate for Trade in Arms and Army Equipment in RS, i.e. for the arms trade. He got this post thanks to being the godfather of Rajko Vasic, an official of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats. Very often, Vasic uses and promotes in his public statements Ckonjovic's analyses about the surplus of arms and military equipment in Bosnia-Herzegovina and about distributing army property to the entities, and his criticisms of the military industry in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Ckonjovic, as a gray eminence, is regarded as one of the key obstructionists in the process of making an inventory of state property and allocating it for the needs of the B-H Armed Forces. He is also in the B-H Ski Association management.
Retired Colonel Milan Bogdanic, who was appointed as head of the Srebrenica committee by Dragan Cavic a few years ago, held an important post in the B-H Institute for Missing Persons until a few days ago. During the war, he was security officer of the First Krajina Corps, which was headed by Colonel Stevo Bogojevic. He was implicated in the wartime stories about trading with corpses in the exchange committees. Bogdanic has been retired for 10 years, but this has not prevented this security officer from getting a job in B-H institutions and from holding a senior post.
General Cvjetko Savic, the last chief of staff in the RS Army's Supreme Headquarters, who earned several criminal reports in the course of his army career, is in the RS Government's secretariat for cooperation with the Hague tribunal, and he is also deputy director of the RS Centre for War-Crime Investigations. Savic was a security officer during the war, and reliable sources argue that after the war he belonged to the 410th intelligence centre. From 1 January 2004, he was chief of staff in the main headquarters of the RS Army's Fifth Corps, in what was already the joint B-H Armed Forces. He was the second chairman of the committee for investigating the truth about the sufferings of Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks, Jews and others in Sarajevo between 1992 and 1995; this committee was formed by the B-H Council of Ministers. The salary for the members of this committee was around KM2,000; however, the committee did not do anything during his chairmanship. Cvjetko Savic's term on the committee expired in June 2007. High Representative Paddy Ashdown removed Savic from the RS Government's Srebrenica committee in April 2004, for obstruction. In the middle of last year, this counterintelligence agent became especially engaged in collecting evidence on the ‘Dobrovoljacka Street’ case.
The above-mentioned officers are only part of the network of counterintelligence agents, who remained loyal to their service and profession. The majority of them received a severance package from the budget twice after the war; they received medals on a few occasions from the RS and Serbian authorities, and at the same time they advanced in the RS and B-H institutions. Informed sources argue that these former security officers grew stronger after Milorad Dodik came to power in RS; and that the wartime and postwar army intelligence system in RS, which has undoubtedly remained loyal to Belgrade and to General Ratko Mladic, continuously and successfully monitors and directs processes in Bosnia-Herzegovina....
Dodik has the highest trust in people from the 410th Counter-intelligence Centre
Milorad Dodik has organized an illegal intelligence and police service, financed from the RS budget; this service has several hundreds of people, and their commanders are former counter-intelligence agents from the 410th intelligence centre. Dodik intended to institutionalize his private army by forming a government agency for the security of buildings, but the international community prevented him in this intention. After that, he turned to the security agencies. He took over some of them, and formed other agencies with people loyal to him, where he employed mostly former members of the army intelligence services, the police, and the special army units. The commander of those forces is Milos Cubrilovic Cubri and his deputy is Velibor Sotra.
Vlado Zganjac, the man of Hague indictee Stojan Zupljanin, is director of the Alfa security agency in Banja Luka, and this suggests that he also has a share in the company. Alfa numbers around 70 people, and the entire management in Banja Luka are members of the notorious 410th army intelligence regiment.
During the war, Sotra was a member of General Ratko Mladic's escort. During the war, he was involved in a criminal chain of forging money and its dissemination; he was imprisoned for this, but was released after Mladic's intervention. At the beginning of 1998, his friend Dusan Todic Plovak arranged a job for him in the cabinet of Manojlo Milovanovic, the defence minister in Dodik's first government. Sotra used this post to get paid KM50,000 for wounding himself. All the time after the war, Sotra maintained meetings with Branislav Puhalo, former head of Mladic's security team in the Belgrade Villa Bosanka. Foreign intelligence service documents have recorded that Sotra is a link in aiding and financing Mladic's concealment. Sotra was a member of the 410th intelligence centre for a while; this centre conducted illegal eavesdropping activities, which is why it was disbanded in an SFOR operation in 2003. Petar Salapura was head of the 410th intelligence regiment. Salapura managed the escort for Biljana Plavsic [wartime RS president and convicted war criminal] and the so-called democratic faction, and he is still loyal to Dodik today.
This article has been translated from Slobodna Bosna (Sarajevo), 17 February 2011 - where it appeared as a report by the weekly’s investigative team entitled ‘Generals and officers of Ratko Mladic's first echelon hold strategic posts in RS and B-H’ - by BBC Monitoring European, 28 February 2011