Bosnia and Herzegovina: Radoncic Eager to Testify at Kelmendi Trial
Former Media mogul Fahrudin Radoncic, the leader of one of the parties in the ruling coalition in Bosnia and Herzegovina, says he will testify at the trial of suspected drug kingpin Naser Kelmendi in Pristina, Kosovo.
Kelmendi, a controversial businessman well known in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is on trial in Kosovo for planning a murder and leading an organized crime group that moved large amounts of drugs through a network linking Afghanistan, Turkey and the European Union.
The indictment states that Kelmendi, together with several associates, planned the murder of Bosnian mobster Ramiz "Celo" Delalic in 2007.
Radoncic, the leader of the Alliance for a Better Future (SBB) and former owner of Bosnia's biggest-circulation newspaper "Dnevni Avaz," is named as one of those alleged associates – as reported in the OCCRP series "The Two Bosses".
On Jan. 11, state police arrested Bakir Dautbasic, SBB candidate for Deputy Security Minister, on suspicion that he pressured a witness to give false statements at Kelmendi's trial. The police operation was codenamed "Doll 2" – a continuation of the police operation "Doll" in 2012, which targeted Kelmendi and his alleged associates.
Following the arrest, the SBB issued a news release urging the state court to "stop attempts at political eliminations".
According to Bosnia's public television (BHRT), prosecutors say Dautbasic, together with former government official Bilsena Sahman, who is also being tried in the case, pressured the girlfriend of late Delalic, Azra Saric, into changing her testimony in order to protect both Kelmendi and Radoncic.
Sahman's lawyer, Vasvija Vidovic, says that opposite is true – she says Saric was blackmailing both her client and Dautbasic.
On Sunday, Radoncic gave an interview to "Telering", TV channel OBN, saying that Saric tried to blackmail him through Dautbasic and Sahman. He earlier said he has full confidence in the innocence of Sahman and Dautbasic - who remains SBB's candidate for Deputy Security Minister despite his arrest.
The arrest is, according to Radoncic, planned in order to undermine the ruling coalition – which is made up of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and the SBB.
Radoncic also said he was not fazed by what he says are political attempts to discredit him and the SBB via the Kelmendi trial. Although he previously was unwilling to testify, he now says he is eager to do so as it is his duty.