The former head of police in Montenegro, Veselin Veljovic, was arrested on the orders of the Special State Prosecutor’s Office for alleged abuse of office, and membership of a criminal organisation.
The Special State Prosecution said the arrest took place in coordination with the European police agency Europol.
“Police arrested Veselin Veljovic and are searching for other persons suspected of the creation of a criminal organisation, abuse of office position and smuggling. Police are searching the apartments and other premises in the capital Podgorica and in the towns of Niksic, Zabljak and Mojkovac,” said Special Prosecution spokesperson Vukas Radonjic.
The ruling majority parties hailed the move, while outgoing Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic underscored that the battle against organised crime in Montenegro would continue.
“Hand of justice finally reached Veljovic. The prosecution and police did a good job. We are moving on,” Abazovic tweeted.
Veljovic was made head of police in the northern town of Pljevlja in 1992. His appointment came amid a period of ethnic tensions and conflict near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, during the Bosnian war.
After being targeted by the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA), made up of police officers and paramilitaries from the Pljevlja area, more than one hundred Bosniak families were forced to flee the village of Bukovica.
Some of the victims claim to have been interrogated by Veljovic.
Veljovic has denied the accusations, and has said he protected citizens in Pljevlja from paramilitaries.
In 1995, Veljovic was appointed head of the police’s Special Anti Terrorist Unit (SAJ). A decade later, he was made head of police.
Veljovic was dismissed, however, in December 2011 after media outlets published alleged transcripts between then-Prime Minister Igor Luksic, Foreign Minister Milan Rocen and drug trafficker Darko Saric.
Luksic and Rocen criticised the transcripts as false, and of being published as a means of discrediting the two men. Luksic said he had doubts about the ability of police to properly investigate the case.
Later that month, Veljovic was promoted to security adviser for Montenegro’s President Filip Vujanovic. He returned as head of the Police Directorate in July 2018, under the administration of Prime Minister Dusko Markovic.
Veljovic’s time in office has been marked with controversy. In 2017, the Special State Prosecution attempted to bring charges against Veljovic for corruption in the sale of the former police headquarters in Podgorica to Djukanovic’s brother, Aco Djukanovic.
After the Interior Ministry failed to move the police headquarters in 2013, the government was forced to pay seven million euros in compensation to Djukanovic.
Opposition MPs and non-government organisations have long accused Veljovic of alleged corruption, and of maintaining political ties to Djukanovic and his Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS). Former Montenegrin Police Chief arrested for abuse of office.
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