Serbian ‘Spy’ Suspect Arrest Leaves Family Mystified

Serbian ‘Spy’ Suspect Arrest Leaves Family Mystified

BalkanInsight_logoThe sister of Cedo Colovic, a former wartime fighter who has Croatian and Serbian citizenship and was arrested in Serbia for alleged espionage, said his family has been told nothing about his case.

The sister of 57-year-old Cedo Colovic, who was arrested in Serbia on Friday on suspicion of espionage, told BIRN that no official has informed the family about his situation and said that she was only getting information about him through the media.

“We haven’t officially received anything nor has anyone called us, we only know what we see on TV,” said Colovic’s sister Anka Borkovic.

“I was hoping that at least Cedo [Colovic] or his lawyer would maybe call us but no one is calling,” she continued.

She said she had heard in the media that he had reached a settlement with the prosecutor’s office in Serbia – which has not been confirmed.

Borkovic denied that her brother was a spy

She said Colovic had once held some rank in a breakaway wartime rebel Serb statelet in Croatia, the Republic of Serbian Krajina, although she said was “not sure which one exactly”.

He was wounded in the shoulder in 1993 and transferred to hospital in Belgrade for treatment then was granted disability status and given a state pension.

Borkovic said that in 1999 he moved back to their native village of Tepljuh, near the town of Drnis in southern Croatia, to take care of their parents who lived there. After both parents died, he returned to Belgrade in 2004, after which he returned every year for around a month, to take care of the house and their vineyard.

“He was planning to go there on Friday [when he was arrested] … I am in shock, I don’t know what to think anymore,” she said.

Both the Serbian prosecutor’s office and the Higher Court in Belgrade declined to comment on the case to BIRN.

Quoting anonymous sources, Serbian newspaper Blic claimed that Croatia had threatened to prosecute Colovic for war crimes allegedly committed in Croatia during the 1990s and forced him to work for the Croatian Security and Intelligence Agency, SOA.

According to the same sources, he collected information and documentation and even recruited witnesses for the prosecution in Croatia of former officers of the Yugoslav People’s Army, JNA.

Milica Kostic, legal programme director at the Humanitarian Law Centre from Belgrade – researching and documenting war crimes – told BIRN that Colovic is unknown to her organisation as a person who might be connected to war crimes.

“He isn’t mentioned in any piece of evidence or testimony before the Hague Tribunal, there is no information about him on the Internet and there is no information on him in our database. This is very strange,” she said, raising her suspicions about him being connected to war crimes committed in Croatia.

She also said that, for now, it is not even clear what he is accused of, because media reports that he “recruited witnesses or worked on indictments” are not criminal acts of espionage.

Kostic is also puzzled about media reports that Colovic got hold of military documents, since, according to her, he could only have done so as an employee of a state institution.

The only official confirmation over the weekend was that Colovic holds both Croatian and Serbian citizenship and was arrested on suspicion of espionage. He was remanded in custody for 30 days on Sunday.

Serbian media reports have alleged that Colovic was spying on Serbia for Croatia, which Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic denied on Saturday, calling the whole issue “a provocation” by Belgrade.

Relations between Croatia and Serbia have deteriorated sharply in recent months amid exchanges of inflammatory diplomatic protest notes and harsh statements from politicians on both sides.