Saturday, January 02, 2010

Dukanovic defends his criminal empire

Montenegro’s Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic, has said that the cigarette smuggling business in Montenegro in 1990s did not break the law.

Addressing the public on “Prime Minister’s Hour”, Djukanovic said the “transit” in tobacco had been conducted “in line with the laws of that time”, rejecting claims that Montenegro had become a safe haven for criminals.

“The transit job was done in line with Yugoslav and Montenegrin laws of the time. All income that the state planned to collect from that job was registered and paid to the treasury of Montenegro,” he said.

tobacco trading.By 1999-2000 the illicit trade was worth several billion dollars annually, according to EU and US agencies. Djukanovic struck back against these allegations, stressing that no proof has been presented since local media started reporting on his alleged involvement in mafia-style tobacco trading.

A court in Bari recently announced that a decision on possible court proceedings against nationals from Montenegro, Italy and Serbia, allegedly involved in an international cigarette smuggling ring, will be discussed in January.

The trial began in November 2001. The public prosecutor in Bari, Giuseppe Scelsi, included Djukanovic in the investigation owing to his alleged role in the smuggling.

“For almost a decade, Montenegro has been a haven for illegal trafficking, where criminals acted with impunity, while the ports of Bar and Kotor were used as logistics bases for motor boats, with protection which was guaranteed by the government,” the court’s document charges said.

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