Bosnia’s Radoncic Accused at Kelmendi Drug Trial in Kosovo
By Valerie Hopkins in Pristina
Bosnian politician and media mogul Fahrudin Radoncic allegedly claimed to have the final word on any assassinations or other illicit activity conducted by alleged drug dealer Naser Kelmendi, a court heard.
Witness Sejla Turkovic testified at the court in Pristina on Monday that Radoncic told her that he had the right of approval over Kelmendi’s actions.
Radoncic features prominently in the 49-page indictment against Kelmendi, who is charged with being the head of a major trafficking ring ferrying drugs from Afghanistan to western Europe, with the Bosnian capital Sarajevo as the hub.
Radoncic heads the political party Union for a Better Future, and served as Bosnia’s Minister of Security from 2012 to 2014.
Turkovic, formerly a journalist at Dnevni Avaz, a newspaper owned by Radoncic, recalled her first meeting with Kelmendi in 2004 at a hotel that the mogul owned in Sarajevo, the Radon Plaza.
“After Mr. Kelmendi left, Radoncic said, ‘He is a dangerous man, he is a drug dealer, and that if someone has to be killed, he is the one to do so, you just hire him,’ ” Turkovic testified.
“Radoncic said, ‘No matter how dangerous [Albanians] are, they still have to approach me and ask me for approval,’” she continued.
Radoncic has denied involvement in the case.
Turkovic testified that after her initial meeting with Kelmendi, he called her “on hundreds of occasions” to give her instructions about people she should not write about in her “Black Chronicles” series in the newspaper about organised crime and corruption.
“What has stayed with me specifically is an article I was writing about a person from the Sandzak who was dealing drugs in Serbia and Germany,” she said.
“After I wrote that text and that information, Mr. Kelmendi called me and said, ‘Please don’t write anything more about this person.’”
Turkovic said that she was forbidden from writing about gangsters ‘Muhamed’ Ali Gashi, Darko Elez, and current Bosnian presidency member Dragan Covic, while Kelmendi asked her to write articles discrediting Asim Fazlic, who was then director of Bosnia’s branch of Interpol.
In what was dubbed the largest organised crime trial in Bosnia in two decades, Turkovic’s husband Zijad Turkovic was sentenced to 40 years in prison in November 2013 for running an organized crime ring that included drug trafficking, several counts of murder, and robbery.
Sejla Turkovic is under 24-hour police protection and is escorted at all times by armed guards.
The trial continues on Tuesday.