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News 03 Jan 18

Montenegrin Gangs Blamed for Killing in Serbia

The killing of a reported member of a Montenegrin organised crime gang in Belgrade shows that Serbia is allowing its capital to become a 'safe house' for warring clans, one analyst says.

Filip Rudic
BIRN
Belgrade
Illustration. Photo: mup.rs

The conflict between Montenegrin criminal gangs will continue to endanger the population of neighbouring Serbia until their suspected members are denied entrance into the country, says a former Serbian deputy minister of police and lawyer, Bozo Prelevic.

"It is interesting that the [Serbian] authorities have allowed Belgrade to become a safe house for these [criminal] clans, and I fear the situation will escalate," Prelevic told BIRN on Wednesday.

Serbian authorities have said the Montenegrin citizen who was shot dead in his car in Belgrade on January 1 was "previously known to Serbian and Montenegrin police".

"Everything suggests that this is a clash between rival gangs," Serbia's director of police, Vladimir Rebic, said on Tuesday. No arrests have yet been made.

According to both Montenegrin and Serbian media, the victim was a member of the "Kavac" crime gang from the coastal resort town of Kotor.

The group has reportedly been fighting to control the drug trade with the rival Skaljari clan from the same town.

Several Montenegrin towns have been hit by a series of murders and bomb blasts in this ongoing conflict – but police have caught few perpetrators so far.

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

However, their conflict has also spilled over into Serbia, where the Skaljari clan was reportedly behind two murders in Belgrade.

Prelevic says that it is not uncommon for members of these gangs to hold Serbian citizenship, which suggests they have received some support from persons working within Serbian state institutions.

He said that Serbia’s Security and Information Agency conducts security checks of applicants, but gang members from Montenegro seem able to obtain Serbian citizenship.

“Our problem is not with the Skaljari and Kavac clans but with our people giving them logistical [support], and that will spill over into the streets of Belgrade,” Prelevic warned.

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