For decades, the former Yugoslavia’s secret police recruited known criminals to kill Yugoslav dissidents who were living in other countries, a former agent said in an interview broadcast on Thursday.
The comment by Dusan Stupar, who led the spy agency in the 1980s, was the first time that a senior ex-intelligence officer has spoken about the alleged killings.
The Yugoslavian spy agency has long been suspected of ordering the execution of more than 70 mostly Croat, Kosovo Albanian and Serb emigres in Western countries between 1946 and 1990. During his rule, Yugoslav dictator Josip Broz Tito often bred fear at home of external enemies of the state, branding its emigrants right-wing activists or terrorists.
Yugoslavia broke up as a nation in a bloody civil war in the 1990s.
Stupar told the B-92 TV station on Thursday that the late mobster-turned-warlord Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan was one of the hit men recruited by the secret police to kill emigrants considered enemies of the state.
Stupar said “Arkan and others carried out the tasks” for UDBA, the then secret service agency.
“They were very ‘patriotic’ and fought against the emigres even outside the agency ... in London, Germany or wherever they were,” Stupar said.
“As such, UDBA engaged them for certain tasks,” which included the assassinations, he said.
Arkan and his two bodyguards were shot to death in the lobby of a Belgrade hotel in 2000. He was under indictment by the UN tribunal in the Netherlands for war crimes when he was shot.
His killing triggered speculation that former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic — who died in 2006 while on trial at the UN war crimes tribunal in the Hague — was trying to silence a potential witness against him.
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