by Slobodan VASKOVIC and Goran DJOGIC
"Mauzer was fired upon while in his automobile with an automatic weapon from another vehicle in motion. He was dead on the spot as a result of wounds inflicted by the gunshots," advised Bijeljina police. According to that report, after the assassination the automobile with the attackers drove away in the direction of Ugljevik.
Wall of silence: "Reporter" has learned and the RS MUP has confirmed that Mauzer was driving along the road toward Velika Obarska, a village located very close to Bijeljina. Allegedly he was going to visit his friend Cedo Pavlovic Mlinar and to return an Opel Frontier jeep which he had been driving for the past few days.
"Mauzer stopped at the scene of the murder in order to pick up an old lady who was hitchhiking," claims our source in the Serb police. According to him, the moment that Mauzer stopped his vehicle, a dark red Toyota which up to that point had been moving at a respectable distance from Savic's jeep, started to pass him."
"When the automobiles were even, shots were fired from the Toyota from an automatic weapon. Mauzer was hit by six shots including one in the head. A part of his head was blown up as well as almost the complete left side of his chest," says our source, citing the statements of witnesses. He says that the old lady, who remained unharmed by the intense gunfire, and the owner of a nearby house, who at the moment of the assassination was repairing his antenna on the roof and saw what had happened were the witnesses of the assassination.
Our source claims that the automobile with the attackers stopped not far from the scene of the murder turned around and continued on at great speed toward Ugljevik. He says that according to witness accounts there were two attackers in the automobile, one of whom was the driver while the other firet the lethal shots. His statements were also confirmed by the Bijeljina police, which advised that the Toyota was found in the village of Hase. "The Toyota bore license plates 099-J-206 which were checked and determined to belong to another vehicle," it is stated in the police report. "Reporter" has learned that two automatic rifles, four ammunition cartridges and two black T-shirts were found in the Toyota. According to knowledgeable sources, in the village of Hase the two attackers got into a black VW Golf which was waiting for them and drove away in an unknown direction.
In Bijeljina itself, not long after the murder, the police blocked off the scene of the crime and barred anyone from approaching. "Mauzer's wife was immediately called to come and identify the victim of the murder, and when this was done an investigation began which lasted long into the night. During the investigation, the body of the deceased Mauzer was left in the jeep," says our source in the Srpska Police.
Threats: The assassination of Mauzer has given rise to various stories regarding the person who ordered and the persons who carried out the murder not only in Bijeljina but throughout the Republic of Srpska (RS). What is, however, certain according to both Reporter's police sources and those who knew Mauzer well, is that the deceased Savic had a large number of enemies. "Threats against him occurred almost on a daily basis and were quite common," one of Mauzer's close associates tells Reporter. He claims that Mauzer took all threats seriously and that he never left his house unarmed. "He used to joke that the Democratic Party of RS, which he had founded, would win in the elections only after he was killed," says our source. According to him, Mauzer recently told his wife that he would soon be killed and that he wished to be buried in the village where he was born.
Nevertheless, no one in Bijeljina dares to point out specifically who those involved in ordering and carrying out the murder might be.
"It is difficult at this moment to even imagine who ordered Mauzer's murder," a high official of the Srpska Police tells Reporter. He emphasizes that lately Mauzer was very careful in his travels and that only a small number of people in his immediate circle knew of his intentions. As the main reason for Savic's caution, this police functionary cites the knowledge that the international community and the Hague tribunal recently intensified collection of information regarding Mauzer's war-time activities. "It is not much of a secret that in the last six-seven months Mauzer frequently left Bijeljina in order to prevent a possible arrest by SFOR forces," says our source. The spokesperson of the Hague tribunal Paul Risley stated after Mauzer's murder that the deceased Savic had not been publicly indicted by the international court for war crimes. Risley, however, neither confirmed nor denied whether Savic was on the list of secret indictments of the Hague tribunal. "Mauzer was convinced that he was on the secret list of the Hague Tribunal. He frequently guessed that they would accuse him of ethnic cleansing of the non-Serb population from Bijeljina and Janja even though he claimed that this had not occurred," says Mauzer's close associate and friend. According to him, the deceased Savic became completely convinced that he was on the Hague list when he was refused an entry visa to Israel three months ago.
Accusations: Commenting on the accusations of some centers that Mauzer was one of the organizers of the arrest of Dragan Nikolic "Yankee" and Stevan Todorovic "Steve" and that he assisted in their extradition to the Hague, our source claims that this is "a speculation that was never proven".
Stevan Todorovic "Steve" was kidnapped two years ago by unknown persons from his cottage in Zlatibor. From there he was driven by car to the border and transported across the Drina River into Republika Srpska where he was turned over to American members of SFOR and subsequently transferred to the Hague. Todorovic is accused by the Hague tribunal of war crimes against the non-Serb population in Samac.
Dragan Nikolic "Yankee", who is accused by the tribunal of war crimes [allegedly] committed in Vlasenica in the Susica camp, was kidnapped two months ago by a group of eight people in Smederevo. Yankee was also transferred from Serbia to RS and turned over to American soldiers, after which he was extradited to the Hague. The Serbian police has arrested eight people who are accused of kidnapping Yankee for the sum of 100,000 German Marks. The Serbian police unofficially claims that the helpers of the eight are hiding in RS and the BH Federation and that the total sum paid for Yankee's arrest was 500,000 dollars. A high official of the Srpska Police emphasized to Reporter that he did not believe that Mauzer's murderers would be arrested anytime in the near future and that they may never even be discovered.
Rise: The life of Ljubisa Savic Mauzer is full of controversy and constant conflict with his surroundings. He was born in 1958 in the village of Zagona near Bijeljina. He completed secondary school and junior college in Bijeljina and before the beginning of the war in BH he was employed as a social worker. When conflict broke out in Bosnia-Hercegovina he founded an elite military unit called the "Panther Guards" with which he joined the army of the then Serb republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina. The Panthers were renowned as one of the best-trained and equipped units in the Republic of Srpska Army (VRS). They became famous during the battle to establish a corridor between the eastern and western parts of RS and especially during the battles for the city of Brcko. Mauzer fought with the Panthers on almost all war fronts from Hercegovina to north Krajina, on Majevica, Ozren, near Bihac... and wherever it fought, that unit achieved remarkable war results.
"During the war Mauzer was the undisputed master of Bijeljina and without his knowledge nothing in Bijeljina took place - or could take place," one of his friends tells "Reporter", adding that the deceased Savic finished the war with the rank of major. He emphasizes that throughout the war Mauzer was on fairly good terms with the political leadership of RS and then president Radovan Karadzic. However, by the end of 1995 and the beginning of 1996 Mauzer began to publicly criticize the leadership of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS), advocating a redefinition of the political scene in the Serb entity. In the beginning of 1996 a final parting of ways between the SDS and Mauzer occurred. In the same year, the deceased Savic founded the Democratic Party of RS and in general elections, as the candidate of the Democratic Patriotic bloc, he was elected to the parliament. Mauzer criticized the government of the SDS in the parliament and after former president Biljana Plavsic initiated democratic changes in 1997, the deceased Savic joined her and became one of her closest associates. During that time also his field of activity was limited to Bijeljina, which he attempted to bring under his total control. Nevertheless, in the parliamentary elections held in November of that year, Mauzer was not elected to the parliament of Srpska.
Fall: As reward for his support of Plavsic at the beginning of 1998, with the election of the government headed by Milorad Dodik, he was appointed to the function of the Chief of the Srpska Police. In July of the same year, there was an assassination attempt against him. Vladimir Neretljak and Stojan Maksimovic were killed during the attempt. The police officially stated that they were killed by an explosion which occurred when they attempted to plant an explosive device under Savic's automobile which was parked in front of his house. Mauzer's opponents, however, claim that Savic personally killed Neretljak and Maksimovic and placed them under his automobile after which he blew everything up. "Seselj said that I killed those people and put them under my car. After they failed to physically eliminate me, they made up this case (physical abuse of arrested persons for the murder of Srdjan Knezevic) in order to politically discredit me," Mauzer told Reporter last year after he was dismissed from the function of police chief of the Srpska Police.
Veljko Borovina was identified as the organizer of that assassination attempt on Mauzer, and Predrag Bartula and Jovo Vasic "Calija" were his assistants. All three were released by the court with the explanation that their innocence had been proven. Borovina, after his release, told Reporter that while he was under arrest Mauzer and his people subjected him to intense physical abuse and torture. "They put me in a chair and handcuffed me to the chair with two sets of handcuffs. Complete darkness and then a floodlight in my eyes. Then a video camera was turned on. They told me that I have to confess to whatever they said. Mauzer himself sat in front of me and gave orders on how they were to hit me. When beatings could not make me confess that I had participated in the assassination and that I had organized it, they used electrical shocks," claimed Borovina. "This was not an assassination attempt and the best witness of that is Mauzer himself. I believe that the chief perpetrator of that case must be him," said Bartula categorically, stating that Mauzer considered him to be a great obstacle in the event of the possible arrest of Radovan Karadzic. Mauzer completely rejected all of their claims.
Not long after the assassination attempt against Mauzer, on August 7, 1998, the deputy head of the public security center (CJB) of Serb Sarajevo, Srdjan Knezevic, was killed in Pale in front of the building where he lived. Mauzer was a member of the commission investigating Knezevic's murder. Soon an indictment against six persons was filed but they were also freed by the court with the explanation that their innocence had been proven. Dusko Tesic, Zeljko Jankovic, Srdjan Davidovic, Goran Siljegovic, Branislav Milanovic and Slavko Mihajlovic were all freed. The first accused in that case, Dusan Tesic, after his release, stated for Reporter that his unit was falsely accused because one of the goals of Knezevic's murder was the arrest of Radovan Karadzic. He stated at that time that his colleagues were subjected to intense abuse and beatings, that Mauzer attempted to pull out their teeth with miner's pliers, that they were exposed to electroshocks from an electrical gun, that they were beaten on the soles of the feet...
Commenting on these accusations during an interview for Reporter, Mauzer gave a cynical reply: "Here is what you are going to write. Not only did I pull teeth out but I also put them back in. In addition to this I performed a lobotomy on everyone with the goal of changing their political convictions, and the electroshocks were applied in lieu of anesthesia. You must understand that I cannot bring myself to comment on this publicly because it is nothing but ordinary fabrications."
Mauzer was dismissed from the function in the Srpska Police "for overstepping of authority" during an investigation of the murder of Srdjan Knezevic. This occurred at the beginning of September 1998 at the request of the international community, that is, at the request of then commissioner of IPTF Richard Monk; Mauzer and approximately fifteen policemen who were working on the Knezevic case were dismissed from the police force.
Defense and last days: For his dismissal, Mauzer blamed the then minister of Srpska Police, Milovan Stankovic, who he claimed was collaborating with "the criminal leadership of the SDS", and IPTF officer Jeffery Beaumont who he said had been corrupted "by the group from Pale". Since then Mauzer had only once addressed the public in the interview for Reporter already mentioned, after which he almost completely withdrew from political and public life.
However, the story of the Knezevic case does not stop here. A case was filed against Mauzer and his eight associates on the Knezevic case by those formerly accused for Knezevic's murder. The hearing was scheduled to begin ten days ago in the district court in Sokolac. Mauzer, however, did not appear in court and his attorney, appealing that the case be tried by a different court, stated that Savic had not come "for security reasons". Commenting on Mauzer's murder for "Reporter", Dusan Tesic told "Reporter" that it is not good if anarchy has taken over in RS and if conflicts are resolved by weapons. "My position is that a legal state needs to resolve all problems. As a man I am sorry that Mauzer was killed but as one of the formerly accused in the Knezevic case I am sorry that the deceased Mauzer did not answer in court for what he did to me and my friends," said Tesic.
Regardless of who ordered and who carried out the murder, whether it was a matter of revenge, unsettled accounts, corruption, criminal or any other kind of activity, the murder of Ljubisa Savic Mauzer has shaken up further the already turbulent situation in RS. One thing is certain: the deceased Savic took many secrets to the grave with him. The life of Ljubisa Savic was like in the movies. Mauzer's death was no different.