News 23 Nov 16

Yugoslav Spy Chief Convicted of Kosovo Dissident’s Murder

A former Yugoslav secret police official and two Serbian hitmen were convicted of the assassination of Kosovo Albanian dissident Enver Hadri in Brussels in 1990.

Arben Qirezi
BIRN
Pristina
Enver Hadri. Photo: T. Hadri/Creative Commons.

A court in Brussels on Tuesday convicted Bozidar Spasic, the former head of special operations of the Yugoslav secret police, UDBA, and Serbian criminal gang members Andrija Draskovic and Veselin Vukotic, of the assassination of Kosovo rights activist Enver Hadri in the Belgian capital on February 25, 1990.

The investigation found that it was a political killing sponsored by UDBA, using the two gang members as the hitmen, Belgian media reported.

The three men were tried in absentia and their sentences will be announced later.

Two other suspects who allegedly participated in Hadri’s assassination, Andrija Lakonic and Darko Asanin, were murdered in Serbia in the 1990s.

Spasic, who was convicted of organising the killing of Hadri, is one of the most famous Yugoslav secret police operatives, working for the secret service from 1979 until 1993, when he suffered a heart attack.

After he recovered, he opened a private security agency called SIA in Serbia which worked on surveillance and interception until 2007, when it was shut down.

He was also arrested in 1999 by Serbian police after speaking about political murders during the ruling of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. However, the case against him was dropped after several months and he has been compensated for torture.

Spasic also wrote two books about his work as a spy and has openly spoken about his activities against what he called Albanian terrorism. He is retired and lives in Serbia.

Convicted hitman Draskovic is known to Serbian and other European authorities for his involvement in various killings and criminal activities in Serbia and abroad.

In 2010, he was sentenced by a Belgrade court to 10 years in prison for killing another criminal in a restaurant in Belgrade. He was given early release from prison in 2013.

He was also indicted in Italy for cigarette smuggling, but the case was dropped.

In June 2015, he was arrested by Croatian police while on vacation, but was allowed to stay in a hotel in the coastal town of Split after putting up bail of 100,000 euros.

He then escaped to Serbia, dodging extradition to Belgium to face charges over the murder of Hadri, and is now officially listed as on the run.

The other convicted hitman, Vukotic, was arrested in 2006 at Madrid airport after he had been on the run for 16 years.

CNN reported at the time that he was also wanted as a potential witness to testify at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic at the UN war crimes court in The Hague because was suspected that he once had documents linking Milosevic to various assassinations.

He was also fleeing a conviction for shooting a man dead in a nightclub in Montenegro, for which he eventually served eight months in jail in Serbia before being released on humanitarian grounds after suffering a stroke and undergoing heart surgery, officials said.

However a report by BIRN in 2011 revealed that he was freed because he agreed to become an informant and provide information about Montenegrin gangsters.

The victim, Enver Hadri, was an ethnic Albanian nationalist and rights activist from Kosovo who had fled to Belgium in 1972.

He was initially active in the National Resistance of Kosovo Albanians and later founded the Committee for Human Rights Defence in Kosovo.

After the convictions, Hadri’s family accused the Serbian authorities of shielding the guilty men.

“The assassins were not sitting in the dock this time because the Serbian state has been protecting them by any means possible,” said a statement issued by his daughter, Teuta Hadri.

Hadri was shot days before he was scheduled to present a report detailing the deaths of dozens of ethnic Albanians at the hands of the Yugoslav police to the United Nations Human Rights Council in New York.

Other prominent Kosovo Albanian activists suspected to have been killed by UDBA include dissident journalist and singer Jusuf Gervalla, his brother Bardhosh Gervalla and political emigre Kadri Zeka, who were all shot dead in Stuttgart, Germany in 1982.

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