Serbia: Indictee in Pukanic Case Pleads Not Guilty

Presenting his 30-page defence of charges of organising the murder of Ivo Pukanic, publisher of the Croatian weekly Nacional, suspected crime boss Sreten Jocic, aka Joca Amsterdam, said he had “no motive” to commit the crime.

Speaking at the beginning of the trial before the Special Court in Belgrade on Tuesday, Joca Amsterdam said that the reason for his arrest and impeachment was the information that he could undermine Serbian President Boris Tadic.

“My arrest was a political-police concession made by Serbia to Croatia on the basis of Croatian-Montenegrin information that I could jeopardize the Serbian president, which would be in the interest of the Croatian, Albanian and Montenegrin mafia. The real motive is to not shed light on the murder of Pukanic, which is in the interest of the police and some political and mafia structures in Croatia,” Jocic said.

The Serbian Special Prosecution indicted Joca Amsterdam, along with two of his accomplices, on October 26, on charges of ordering and organising Pukanic’s murder. Pukanic, who was killed in October 2009 along with his associate, was known for writing about criminal and mafia groups in the region.

“I did not kill Pukanic. I did not pay for his murder. I have not organised the murder. I did not have a motive. Simply, I did not,” Jocic said.

A parallel trial against four suspects charged with the murder, which started in February, is being held before the Zagreb Municipal Court. The four indicted who were available to the Croatian judiciary pleaded not guilty to all counts of the indictment. One of them, Robert Matanic, who had named Joca Amsterdam as the person who ordered the murder, changed his statement at the begining of trial before the Zagreb court.

Jocic also said that the resolution of the Pukanic murder was of regional importance and suggested that 70 witnesses from the government, political life, police and the mafia in Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, The Netherlands, and the U.S should be brought to testify.

Maja Kovacevic, Special Court spokesperson, told broadcaster B92 that protected witnesses would be called for the first time during the Joca Amsterdam trial.

“I can’t say anything about what his defense will look like. The trial begins with the reading of the indictment and the accused will be allowed to speak afterwards. As far as the evidence which we did not have before at the Special Court, that will be the protected witnesses. There is much interest in the trial, especially by journalists from Croatia,” the broadcaster quoted Kovacevic as saying.

The trial continues today.

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