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news 16 Apr 15

Bosnia’s ‘Most Dangerous’ Crime Gang Jailed

Violent gang boss Zijad Turkovic and four of his associates were sentenced to a total of 95 years in prison in the single largest Bosnian criminal case since the war.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Bosnia’s state court on Thursday jailed five members of what has been called the country’s most violent criminal gang, led by Zijad Turkovic, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison for series of crimes that included several murders, robberies and drug smuggling. 
 
Turkovic’s main associate Milenko Lakic was sentenced to 35 years, while the court sentenced Fadil Aljovic to five years in prison, Sasa Stjepanovic to 12 and Muamer Zahitovic to three years in prison. 
 
The sentence handed down in the second-instance was one of the harshest in Bosnia’s recent history.

The crimes included five brutal murders and the robbery of around 1.3 million euro from a bank at Sarajevo Airport's Cargo Centre.

The list of charges also included money laundering, the smuggling of illegal ammunition and military equipment, the production and smuggling of narcotics, a number of attempted murders and extortion. 
 
“The prosecutor's office of Bosnia and Herzegovina is satisfied with the stated sentence of total of 95 years and we welcome the decision of the sourt,” said prosecution spokesman Boris Grubesic.

“This is a historic verdict because it is about the most dangerous criminal organisation since the war,” he said. 
 
The court also ordered that the convicted men’s illegally obtained should be confiscated.

Turkovic was ordered to pay to the state around 150,000 euro, and some of his cars and real estate, as well as money from the account of his wife, former journalist Sejla Jugo Turkovic, will be confiscated too. 
 
Zijad Turkovic and the group were jailed for the vmurders of Midhat Mekic, his pregnant partner Lucia Salas Cortes, Mario Tolic, Verner Ajdari and Rajko Milovanovic. Some of the bodies were found walled up in a house while others were dismembered and dumped in the mountains. 
 
Turkovic claimed during the trial that the case against him was a set-up. He claimed that the murders for which he was charged were actually carried out by another member of Bosnia’s criminal network, Naser Kelmendi, who is currently in trial in Kosovo. 
 
Several other people related to the Turkovic group earlier confessed their guilt and agreed sentences with the court ranging from one to five years in prison. 
 
Turkovic and members of his group were already sentenced to the total of 100 years in prison in 2013. However, because of procedural mistakes by the prosecution, the appeals chamber of Bosnia’s state court rescinded this ruling and ordered the retrial which ended on Thursday.

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