Bosnia and Herzegovina: Indictment Against Radoncic Also Names US Embassy Official

Bosnian prosecutors today filed an indictment accusing former media mogul Fahrudin Radoncic and three of his alleged accomplices of pressuring a witness into providing false testimony and trading in influence.

fahroFahrudin RadoncicThe indictment also names Zijad Hadzijahic, an official employed in the US Embassy in Sarajevo.

The indictment, which is still pending court approval, represents a major development in an alleged affair that has sent shock waves throughout Bosnian society. Radoncic is the leader of the Alliance for a Better Future (SBB), one of the parties within the ruling coalition in the Federation territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On Jan. 11, authorities arrested Bakir Dautbasic, the SBB’s candidate for Minister for Communications and Transport, and his girlfriend, former government official Bilsena Sahman. They are accused of pressuring a witness to lie at the trial of suspected drug kingpin Naser Kelmendi in Kosovo.

Kelmendi, a controversial entrepreneur who was arrested by Kosovo authorities in May 2013, is being tried for planning a murder and leading an organized crime group that allegedly moved large amounts of drugs through a network linking Afghanistan, Turkey and the European Union. Prosecutors say he ran the group from Bosnia, and that he is, alongside several associates, guilty of planning the 2007 murder of Sarajevo-based mobster Ramiz "Celo" Delalic.

One of those alleged associates named in Kelmendi's indictment is Radoncic.

Prosecutors say that, at Radoncic's behest, Dautbasic and Sahman tried to influence Azra Saric, Delalic’s former mistress, into providing false testimony at the Kosovo trial.

Not long after, on Jan. 25, authorities arrested Radoncic himself. He, Dautbasic and Sahman were ordered into 30-day pretrial detention; their appeals were subsequently denied.

According to local media, Radoncic is accused of trying to pressure the court with the help of an employee of the US Embassy in Sarajevo, Zijad Hadzijahic.

Prosecutors say Dautbasic had asked Radoncic to appoint Hadzijahic's wife as Bosnian ambassador to Slovenia. In exchange, Hadzijahic was to persuade his bosses at the US Embassy to convince prosecutors in Kosovo to drop Radoncic from the Kelmendi case.

Hadzijahic's wife, Nermana Hadzijahic, indeed became Bosnian Ambassador to Slovenia.

The SBB issued a statement denying that her nomination was due to any underground deal, saying it was already underway before Radoncic knew of any investigation initiated against Dautbasic – who remains SBB's candidate for minister despite his arrest.

The indictment accuses Hadzijahic of pressuring the judiciary and trading in influence.

According to state television (BHRT), Bakir Izetbegovic, Bosniac member of the presidency and leader of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) which is in the coalition alongside the SBB, was also questioned by Bosnian prosecutors. The Presidency’s approval was needed for Nermana Hadzijahic to become ambassador.

The Bosnian Court’s decision on whether to approve the indictment is expected soon.