Bosnia and Herzegovina: Government Official Accused of Aiding Kelmendi

State police today arrested a government official who they say has obstructed the investigation against Naser Kelmendi – an alleged drug kingpin who is being tried in Kosovo for planning a murder and leading an organized crime group that moved a variety of drugs through a network linking Afghanistan, Turkey and the European Union.

Bakir Dautbasic, photo: Security Ministry websiteIn 2012, Bosnian authorities launched a police operation targeting Kelmendi and his alleged associates, codenamed “Doll.” Twenty-five people were arrested, and police raided a number of locations, including Casa Grande – a restaurant and hotel owned by Kelmendi, who evaded arrest.

Bakir Dautbasic, secretary of the Ministry of Security, was arrested with former government official Bilsena Sahman. Prosecutors say the two have  been pressuring witnesses to provide false testimony at the trial against Kelmendi. Dautbasic's arrest is a continuation of the “Doll” police operation, and is codenamed “Doll 2”.

Kosovo authorities arrested Kelmendi on May 5, 2013. He is accused of running an organized crime syndicate involved in drug, tobacco, weapons, and human trafficking, as well as money laundering and extortion. The controversial businessman is also subject to United States sanctions under the Kingpin Act for his suspected role as a major drug trafficker into Europe via the Balkans.

Kelmendi is also charged with planning the 2007 murder of Ramiz “Celo” Delalić in Sarajevo – an organized crime figure who rose to power following the Bosnian war in the early 1990s.

The indictment says that Kelmendi plotted the murder alongside former Minister of Security and candidate for the Bosnian presidency, Fahrudin Radoncic, who leads the SBB political party.Dautbasic is a member of the SBB. Following government reconstruction in 2015, Radoncic and his party have entered the ruling coalition.

According to state television BHRT, Dautbasic was rumored to be SBB's candidate for deputy Minister of Transport and Communications.

According to the N1 news portal, Radoncic told reporters this morning that he believes Dautbasic is innocent, and that he will continue to be SBB's candidate for the government position.