used without permission, for "fair use" only

An Arrest in Tucepi

by Milos Vasic, Filip Svarm, Tatijana Tagirov and Boris Raseta

Vreme, Beograd, FR Yugoslavia, 10/30 1995

On Tuesday, October 24, 1995, Hotel "Alga" in Tucepi (locally known as "Mercepi") was full: almost three hundred delegates from the yearly congress of the Helsinki Civic Union, which had been held in Tuzla, slept at the hotel after a 24 hour long trip by buses. As they were getting ready to continue their journey, a strange group of people appeared in the hotel lobby: two uniformed policemen carrying a stretcher on which a man with a beard was lying, two policemen in civilian clothing, two activists from the Helsinki congress and a Belgrade lawyer Nikola Barovic. It turned out that the Croatian secret police [SZUP, Service for the Protection of the Constitutional Order], had just arrested Radovan Jovic, a delegate at the conference. That arrest somehow coincided with the Croatian Police statement which said that " a group of 13 Serb spies had been arrested". Radovan Jovic had fallen ill the previous night and almost couldn't move; this is not surprising at all, since the group with which he traveled needed 62 hours to reach Tuzla by bus and another 24 hours to get from Tuzla to Tucepi; a man suffering from discopathy has a hard time getting through this. Soon, an ambulance car appeared, Radovan Jovic was placed inside and the car left followed by the police. Two civilian members from the Croatian secret service refused to show their identity cards but the local police confirmed their status; lawyer Nikola Barovic was worried: that wouldn't be a first disappearance in this war...

Jovic's fellow travelers - the activists from different organizations for the protection of human rights and people who had had a lot of experience in the cases of this sort - reacted quickly and efficiently: they alerted their organizations by phone, called American ambassador in Zagreb, Peter Galbraight (who had suggested that Jovic be invited to the conference), German ambassador and Croatia based foreign correspondents. The Croatian police, until then polite and cooperative, suddenly changed its attitude: two buses with conference participants from Yugoslavia and Zagreb were put under police guard. Until then, a police car with flashing lights drove in front of buses in order to speed up their passage; now the policemen forbade the passengers to leave the buses and tried to get to the border with Hungary as soon as possible; the convoy stopped only twice, far away from inhabited places and a phone. All participants had valid Croatian transit visas which would expire two days later, but that didn't mean anything: they might have as well been arrested; the Czech owner of the bus transit company joined the police in harassment which almost caused a fight.

A Peaceful Man From Glina: Who is Radovan Jovic? He was born in 1953, his wife and children have been in Belgrade since 1993, his sister in Zagreb (she was summoned to the police that same morning and interrogated until late that night); he graduated from a law school, passed a bar exam and was elected the county court judge in Glina. Milorad Pupovac says that he has known Jovic since the beginning of 1993, when he attended the first informal meeting of the Serbs and Croats in Austria:" He supported peace, a political agreement; he was against all kinds of extremism and all kinds of non-democratic activities. Because of that, and especially because of his participation at the meeting of Croatian and Serb intellectuals in Zagreb, in November 1994 (he was the only representative of the Serb people from Krajina) his house in Glina was blown up. After that he participated in three UN sponsored conferences about Serbo-Croatian relations."

This tall and peaceful man has a history of clashes with the Martic authorities in Knin: he had been friendly with late Dmitar Obradovic, a president of Vrgin Most municipality who was murdered in 1992 (case unsolved); at the beginning of 1995 he was dismissed from his job; he refused join the Serb army and spent a month in Martic's jail from which he was later taken to the front; after the intervention of the American ambassador, he was released and moved to Belgrade. In July and August of 1995 he was in the USA as a guest of the American government which caused a hysterical reaction in the Croatian press since Jovic was a member of the delegation which represented the Croatian human rights organizations. His destiny is similar to that of Veljko Dzakula: they were arrested by both Martic and the Croatian police; Jovic even visited Dzakula and Dusan Ecimovic in [Serb] jail in 1993. During his trip to Tuzla he was quiet and stayed away from the rest of the group; he didn't seem at all affected by the arrest: he was lying on the stretcher, smiling and smoking.

A Spy Conspiracy: Two hours after Jovic's arrest in Tucepi, at 2 p.m., the assistant to the Police minister, Smiljan Reljic, announced that 15 people had been indicted and accused of spying for RSK [Republic of Serb Krajina]. The operation was called "Zenit", although the Croatian papers kept calling it "Labrador 2"; it probably sounded nicer. Fourteen people, 12 Serbs and 2 Croats had been arrested and one person still hadn't been apprehended. Radovan Jovic's name was on the list of the accused. The suspects were accused of collecting the intelligence in "intelligence centers in Knin, Belgrade and Topusko,"[all on the territory controlled by the rebel Serb forces] within the Yugoslav Army intelligence service, as well as through the intelligence stations located in Trieste [in Italy], Koper [in Slovenia] and Innsbruck [in Austria]. All this was done under the cover of private companies whose owners were Serbs. The offices and apartments of all arrested had been searched, without significant results, as could be seen from the presented material. The evidence shown at the press conference consisted of the details of private correspondence, address books, photographs, a few guns, one Serb flag and two car number plates (VN-2805 and KE-4240, for Vojnic and Korenica). Since the arrested are mostly the former policemen, it could be expected that they would have some arms; the rest could be found in any house. The press conference took place four days after the explosion in Rijeka [an Islamic terrorist organization, Gamaa al islamijja, later claimed responsibility for that explosion which took place in front of a police station] and five days before the Croatian elections. Reljic unequivocally blamed Serbs for the explosion; a large number of Serbs had been summoned and interrogated by the Police; this was assessed as an additional pressure on already terrified Serbs in Croatia.

There are two possible explanations for Radovan Jovic's arrest. He entered and left Croatia, without any problems in 1994; this time he entered the country twice and departed once without problems; the list of conference participants from FR Yugoslavia had been sent to the Croatian Ministry of Internal Affairs a month in advance on the trip; check ups of suspicious individuals are carried out on the SZUP computers. Why was Radovan Jovic arrested half way between Tuzla and Hungary? It is a fact that two out of seven buses were kept at the border crossing in Miskolc for nine and a half hours (since Monday night until Tuesday dawn); this was justified by the "slow" visas of the participants from Azerbaijan. Radovan Jovic had therefore twice entered Croatia (border crossing Barch, from Hungary and Metkovic from Bosnia-Hercegovina) and departed once (Metkovic) and hasn't been stopped although Zagreb had received the data about all passengers (the buses had to wait for hours for a permission to enter Croatia; the excuse was that the policemen were waiting for an approval from Zagreb). There are two possible explanations: either Jovic was arrested because of somebody's political decision to arrest someone else besides 14 suspects; someone else, a Serb, who had been a supporter of peaceful and political solutions and is still a spy (what are the other Serbs like!), or that SZUP found out about Jovic's "spying activity" during three days between his entry from Hungary and from Bosnia-Hercegovina. This other version is somewhat unlikely, if we are to believe Smiljan Reljic, who said that "the action has been conducted systematically and for a long time." The conference participants who were present when the arrest took place unreservedly agreed that the arrest was the consequence of a political decision which was a part of the election campaign. It was necessary to show that no Serb is trustworthy, they said, as well as that those Croats who believe that there are loyal Serbs shouldn't be trusted.

It is the fact that the Croatian authorities captured a lot of documentation from the archives of the former Republic of Serb Krajina during the operation "Storm". That material can be used to support different kinds of conclusions, but a large number of professionals and a lot of time is necessary for something like that. The Croatian secret service hasn't had neither resources nor time for that. Most likely, we have here a pre-election scandal which might in the future turn out to be a blank; but than it won't matter. Side message is that SZUP knows everything about everyone, or that it can plausibly spread that message. This is not insignificant during a pre-election campaign.

The List

Yugoslav independent news agency "BETA" reported from Zagreb that SZUP in cooperation with the Office for National Security [more secret police] handed over the arrested to the military investigative authorities. The arrested are:

Translated on 3/15/96

Testimonies and Action Alerts

                    O T V O R E N E   O C I
             Croatian Branch of the Balkan Peace Team
          *Participant hCa conference Tuzla arrested*
[Thursday, 26-10-1995 - Split]

Radovan Jovic was a participant from Belgrade at the 4th hCa conference in Tuzla. He had been invited to the conference personally by Peter Galbraith, the US Embassador. Together with many others he arrived late at night/ Tuesday morning, 04.15 from Tuzla at the hotel Alga in Tucepi, Croatia where all the participants were supposed to spend the night before travelling further either to Zagreb, Prague, Budapest or Belgrade. The following (Tuesday) morning (approximately 11.00) special police in civil (4 police men from "Service for the Protection of the Constitutional Order") came to the hotel to arrest him. As he was not able to walk, because of a severe pain in the back/ spine which paralysed parts of his body, the police transported him by ambulance around 12.00 o'clock. They stated they would take him first to a hospital in Makarska and afterwards to a hospital in Split. Attempts to locate him there failed.

At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon in Zagreb Mr. Smiljan Reljic, assistant to the Minister of Internal Affairs (Ivan Jarnjak) stated that on Monday, 23-10-1995, criminal charges had been filed against 15 persons on suspicion that they were spies for the intelligence of the so-called "Serbian Republic of Krajina". They had been captured in a joint action by the "Service for the Protection of the Constitutional Order" of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the "Office for National Security". The 15th 'spy' had not been captured yet.

Radovan Jovic was one of the 14 captured. Radovan Jovic had been captured 20 minutes before the beginning of the press conference, stated Mr. Smiljan Reljic.

Mr. R. Jovic is currently in custody of the Military Court of Zagreb.

Additional information about Mr. Jovic

Radovan Jovic (17.04.1951) worked as a judge at the Municipal Court in Glina in the former so-called "Serbian Republic of Krajina". After the "Maslenica-action" in January 1993, during which the Croatian army retook a piece of territory near Zadar, unofficial talks started between Croatian government and Krajina Serb authority representatives in Austria. Three of these meetings were held in Vienna and Graz (twice). UN representatives were present there as well. Mr. Jovic was one of the negotiators from the Krajina Serb side. Mr. Jovic promoted a peaceful resolution of the conflict between both sides. After one of these meetings in 1994 the Knin authorities dismissed him as a judge because of his position in the talks.

In 1994 he also attended a conference of intellectuals from Croatia and Serbia organised by the Croatian magazine "Erasmus". When he returned he found his house in Glina had been mined. In March 1995 the Krajina Serb army decided to mobilise him. He refused to go into the army and then he was sent to prison. After an intervention of the US Ambassador, Peter Galbraith and other international organisations the Knin authorities had to set him free. In May 1995 he went on a study trip to the US (organised by the US Embassy) together with three Croatian human rights activists and upon return he decided to go to Belgrade instead of back to Glina. In Belgrade he now is a member of the Serbian Helsinki Committee.

(PS Two local human rights activists seem to think he might be a 'double' spy. No further info about this so far)

Source: Otvorene Oci Split/ Tanja Tagirov (Arkzin), Lino Veljak (Action of Social Democrats), Bodo Weber (Dalmatian Committee of Solidarity Split)/ Milorad Pupovac (Serbian Democratic Forum)

Names, addresses and faxnumbers of responsible authorities:
subject: protest to Mr. Granic
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 08:12:11 +0000

Dear friends,

you all know what happened on the way back from Tuzla. Mr. Radovan Jovic, one of the participants from Serbia was arrested, and moreover, the treatement that all the participants from Serbia and Montenegro received was harsh and rude. We are therefore doing everything possible to protest against this to the Croatian authorities. The American, the Dutch, the Swedish and the German Embassies in Zagreb are exercising strong pressure abouth the case.

Probably Mient Jan and Gert Weisskirchen are going to Zagreb soon, to talk to different people and try to visit Mr. Jovic in prison. It would be very good if you also do something in your country. Some hCa committees are already organizing press-conferences and some are mobilizing their governments to put pressure on the Croation authorities. Attached to this is the protest letter we sent to Mr. Granic, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Croatia. You can also use it. If you want to have more information about the arrests and about Mr. Jovic, please contact us as soon as possible.


Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Western Liaison Office
P.O.Box 85893, 2508 CN The Hague, The Netherlands
phone: 31 70 35 55 444; fax: 31 70 35 55 199

Subject: trip through Croatia
Date: Wed, 01 Nov 1995 23:08:48 +0100


Dear friends,

This letter is to inform you about experience of the group of participants of t he IV Annual Assembly of the hCa from Serbia and Montenegro on their way back from Tuzla. As you know, two buses with almost half of the participants from Serbia and Mon tenegro stayed in Metkovic for 9 and half hours waiting for clearance of visas for their fellow-participants from the former Soviet Union. During that time the group was not let out of the buses save when the toilet was needed. The food provided as lunch packages in Tuzla was not sufficient, nor water was provided during that time. After 3 a.m., when Ms. Mary Kaldor and Mr. Mint Jan Faber came back to Metkovic, the group was allowed to enter Croatia.

The group reached Tucepi at 4:30 a.m. and had to live the hotel "Alga" at noon. However, sometime between 8:30 and 11:15 a.m. our colleague and fellow-participant Mr. Radovan Jovic, an ex-judge from Glina, was arrested in his room (no. 333) where due to the blockage of the spine he was lying in the bad. He was arrested by 4 persons in civil suits and taken by the ambulance followed by a regular police car with two uniformed police officers. Few minutes after, 4 undercover agents from the room and 2 more left the parking lot in front of the hotel. We were informed that he was to be taken to the hospital for the first medical aid and then to be interrogated. Our request that our law yer, Mr. Nikola Barovic, and our physicist, Dr. Dragoslav Pavlovic, accompany him was denied. Let us add, that police has checked Mr. Jovic identity in Metkovic - his passport was the only one that was returned with the delay and with request from the police officer to see his face.

We have informed Mr. Peter Galbreit immediately, as well as the ambassadors of Spain, Hungary and Germany, the hCa, the Croatian Helsinki Committee, the Anti-War Campaign (Zagreb), Dalmatian Solidarity Committee (Split), attorneys-at-law, Mr. Srdj Jaksic (Dubrovnik, participant at the Assembly) and Mr. Mirko Francheski (Split), media, and Yugoslav Mission in Zagreb.

We left Tucepi after two officers form the Public Security Office, as they introduced themselves, spoke to Nikola Barovic and Vladan Vasilijevic about the arrest of Mr. Jovic at 3:30 p.m. They informed Mr. Barovic and Mr. Vasilijevic that they did not know where Mr. Jovic had been taken to nor by whom. Furthermore, they suggested that the arrest might been undertaken by uncontrolled group, though it was obvious to all people present at the hotel that it was done by the police. That gave room for doubting about the life of Mr. Jovic for it wouldn't be the first time that someone simply disappeared. ( It was only on October 25, that the secretary from the American Embassy informed us that the Ambassador was informed by the Ministry of Interior of Croatia that Mr. Jovic was in prison in Zagreb. We got this information only when we entered Hungry, at 8 a.m. )

This is a starting point of a long and miserable trip we had through Croatia Lunch packages were not provided for all participants. Water was not provided at all. Nevertheless, stops were not made to enable travelers to continue their journey in dignity. Moreover, even necessary stops were made only twice and along the road, in the bushe. The idea of the police was obviously to keep us away from telephone lines and to get us out of Croatia as soon as possible, though our visa was valid until midnight, October 25, 1995. Even participants who had menaged to extend their visas were asked to leave the territory of Croatia.

The group was de facto arrested. Even travelers from Split and Zagreb were not let out of the buses without checking of their identity documents. The trip took longer than necessary, for the police controls were changing almost each 20 kilometers, always with the delay and with counting of the passengers as if we had been let of the busses. Moreover, the behavior of the drivers and representatives of the bus company was outrageous. Besides helping the Croatian police in their endeavor, they asked passengers that were left without water, to pay 1 DEM for coffee and requested from the police to continue the trip even when the police was willing to stop so that they can make it faster to Prag.Needless to say that the only support we had was the support from our coordinator Ms Lidija Grebo, and our colleagues from Split and Zagreb, who went through all this misery with us. Therefore, we accepted information on Ms. Grebo resignation with deepest sorrow.

All this that happened during the trip through Croatia did not spoil nice memories we have of Tuzla Assembly and Tuzla itself, but puts people on alert with regard to future similar endeavors. Especially the fact that one of the participants was arrested during that trip.

With best wishes for the future work of the hCa,

Sincerely yours,

For the group of participants of the IV Annual Assembly of the hCa in Tuzla from Serbia and Montengro,
Elena Popovic
Belgrade, October 28, 1995

Tue Oct 24 19:04:17 1995





Please state this fact in your press releases about the assembly and try to put pressure.

Goedele De Keersmaeker
hCa Executive Director

PS Closing statement and other information on the results of the Assembly will follow later.

## Message from 24.10.95 forwarded
## Origin :
## Creator :

Dear Srdjan, thought it was good to send you this message as well. Any suggestions for action? Greetings, dave


Dear readers,

Radovan Jovic was a participant from Belgrade at the 4th Assembly in Tuzla. Together with many others he arrived late at night/ Tuesday morning, 04.00 at the hotel Alga in Tucepi where all the participants were supposed to spend the night before travelling further either to Zagreb, Prague, Budapest or Beograd. The following (Tuesday) morning the pain in his spine, which he had felt for a few days already, got so bad that he could hardly move. Friends decided to call an ambulance, which came immediately to pick him up and bring him to the hospital.

Exactly what happened in the meantime is not known, but at 15.00, Tuesday afternoon, during the Croatian radio news it was announced that 14 Serb spies had been arrested. Radovan Jovic was one of them.

At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon (24-10-1995) in Zagreb Mr. Smiljan Reljic, assistant to the Minister of Internal Affairs (Ivan Jarnjak) stated that on Monday, 23-10-1995, criminal charges had been filed against 15 persons on suspicion that they were spies for the intelligence of the so-called "Serbian Republic of Krajina". One of the persons had not been arrested yet. Radovan Jovic had been captured 20 minutes before the beginning of the press conference, stated Mr. Smiljan Reljic.

Radovan Jovic (44) worked as a lawyer in Glina in the former so-called "Serbian Republic of Krajina". He had some problems with the local authorities and even was in prison for a month there. Now he has been arrested and is supposed to be in Split in the Military Barracks. According to a Split lawyer he was transported away from a Split hospital at 12.40 Tuesday afternoon.

As Mr. Radovan Jovic was a participant at the hCa conference in Tuzla and was returning from Tuzla with the hCa bus convoy I thought it was appropriate to inform you immediately about this event. My suggestion is that you undertake some action, but of course that is up to you.

I will give you the phone number of Mr. Ivan Jarnjak, Minister of Internal Affairs: 385-1-6122129 and of Mr. Smiljan Reljic, Assistent to the Minister of Internal Affairs: 385-1-6122111

Yours sincerely,
Dave Bekkering
(participant of the 4th hCa conference in Tuzla)
Otvorene Oci Split/ Balkan Peace Team