‘No Montenegrin Involved’ in Pukanic Murder

04 November 2008 Podgorica – Montenegro police are denying reports that those who ordered the murder of high-profile Croatian journalist Ivo Pukanic and his marketing chief, Niko Franjic are Montenegrin nationals.

“Such allegations are incorrect and are nothing but speculation,” Montenegro’s Interior Minister said in a statement, adding that on behest of their Croatian counterparts, some information about “a person born in Montenegro, but currently residing in one of the countries in the region,” has been provided, Germany’s Deutsche Welle reports.

However Montenegrin opposition leader, Nebojsa Medojevic told the network that the possibility that someone from Montenegro orchestrated the assassination should not be excluded.

“Croatian police have turned to Montenegrin police requesting some operative information, and as far as I know, they also requested some arrests to be made,” Medojevic said.
 
Earlier the leader of the Movement for Change, PzP, the largest opposition party in the Montenegrin parliament, said the country’s police lacked courage to help their Croatian colleagues. 

Meanwhile media report that Croatian police will send a request to Podgorica to investigate persons suspected of having had some connection to the murder of Pukanic with some of them also thought to have been involved in cigarette smuggling during the 1990s.
 
The editor of Croatia’s Nacional weekly Pukanic, together with Franjic, were killed in a car bombing in central Zagreb on October 23.

In 2001, Pukanic’s Nacional weekly published a series of articles linking Montenegro Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic to the 1990s Balkan tobacco mafia.

The articles were republished in Podgorica daily Dan, whose editor-in-chief Dusko Jovanovic was killed in May 2004.
 
Djukanovic is being investigated for alleged gains that he made from the lucrative illegal trade of cigarettes from that period.

He denies those claims.
 
In March, he told Italian prosecutors it was necessary for Montenegrin ministers at the time to open Swiss bank accounts, so they could purchase medicines and other goods necessary for the survival of the nation, “caught between [international] sanctions and the Milosevic regime.”

The Anti-Mafia Department in Italy’s southern town of Bari has requested charges to be filed against seven Serbian and Montenegrin nationals suspected of involvement in smuggling of cigarettes between Montenegro and the Italian province of Puglia during the 1994-2002 period.

Montenegro’s Premier however was not on the list.
 
Italian Prosecutor Giuseppe Schelsi had mentioned that Pukanic was to be one of the key witnesses in the trial of Montenegrin cigarette smugglers.

After 15 years of investigation the trial is set to begin soon, reports add.

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