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news 19 Sep 17

New Killing in Troubled Kotor Rattles Montenegro

The ability of the police in Montenegro to deal with gangster-style assassinations in the crime-hit resort of Kotor is again in question after another killing last weekend.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica
Montenegrin PM Dusko Markovic met the security agencies chiefs on September 16. Photo: gov.me.

After five unsolved murders in the last two months, some of them in the coastal town of Kotor or carried out by Kotor crime groups, the government and the security agencies have been accused of not doing enough to protect citizens against criminals who are “more powerful than the state".

After another killing in Kotor on Saturday, opposition parties and NGOs on Monday called for firm action by the security agencies to “protect innocent lives" in the apparent crime war raging in the coastal town.

The opposition slated what it called the police's and prosecution’s inadequate response in Kotor, alleging that criminal groups have their own people within the security institutions.

The opposition URA movement said the situation clearly was deteriorating and that it was only matter of time before more innocent people were injured or killed.

“On behalf of the citizens of Kotor, we demand a peace and security that has been taken away for us for years by some structures in the state which, by their inaction, have created a system that suits the criminals and where human life is worth nothing," it said.

The latest murder shook Kotor on Saturday, when a former football player, Goran Lenc, was assassinated, just hours after Prime Minister Dusko Markovic and security agencies chiefs met to talk about the security situation in the country.

The meeting was called as a response to another Kotor-gang-related murder in the capital, Podgorica, last week, when two men were shot in the crowded centre of the city in daylight – one of which was reportedly a bystander.

Markovic said that while the “peace and security [situation] are favourable" in Kotor, he acknowledged concerns about the activities of organized criminal groups.

“Criminals must be stopped, the state will know how to do so," Markovic was quoted as saying in a cabinet press release on Saturday.

In response to the newest violence, the Interior Minister, Malvudin Nuhodzic, repeated on Monday that the security situation in Montenegro was acceptable, but also announced a fight with criminals using “new human resources".

Over the past year, several Montenegrin towns and Podgorica have been hit by a series of murders and bomb blasts – but police have caught few of the perpetrators so far.

The situation is worst in Kotor, where it is reported that 30 people have been killed since late 2013, apparently in clashes between the rival Skaljari and Kavac clans, named after neighbourhoods in Kotor.

According to the police, clashes between rival drug gangs were behind most of the bomb attacks across the country in the last year.

A small resort with a Medieval old town in the Boka Bay, with only around 20,000 inhabitants, on UNESCO's world heritage list, Kotor made headlines a decade ago after it was revealed that the drug baron Darko Saric had begun to invest huge sums there, mostly in the tourism sector.

In a first-instance verdict in July 2015, Belgrade’s Special Court for Organized Crime jailed Saric for 20 years for smuggling cocaine from Latin America.

The court also convicted around 30 other defendants, 14 of whom are still on the run, for smuggling more than five tons of cocaine from South America in 2008 and 2009, giving them jail sentences of five months to 20 years.

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