“The link between criminals, government officials and football hooligans has become very public in recent years,” Predrag Petrovic from the Belgrade Center for Security Policy (BCSP) told KRIK.
In reference to KRIK’s recent investigation that shows how a security guard tied to Serbia’s underworld assaulted journalists and protestors at President Aleksandar Vucic’s inauguration ceremony, Petrovic recalls similar instances.
A picture that surfaced in 2012 shows then hooligan chief of the notorious group known as “Alkatraz” behind the leader of the Socialist Party of Serbia, Ivica Dacic as they celebrated the election results.
“This wasn’t just any political gathering,” Petrovic said. “It was a gathering to support the president which made it more problematic.”
KRIK discovered that one of the security guards at the Serbian President’s inauguration ceremony on May 31 was Borko Aranitovic who is close to the gang of Aleksandar Stankovic, a drug kingpin dubbed “Sale the Mute” who was assassinated last October.
KRIK further published one of Aranitovic’s Facebook photographs that shows him in the company of Nenad Vuckovic “Vucko” who is a member of a special police force called the Gendarmerie.
He is currently not under investigation for his ties to criminals, the Ministry of interior told KRIK.
The internal affairs sector should have “definitely launched an investigation,” Petrovic said.
“This shouldn’t be allowed because it sends the wrong message to other members of the police that this is acceptable.”
Vucko appeared in another photograph at a soccer stadium cheering with Sale the Mute and his close associate Veljko Belivuk who is currently in custody for allegedly killing a man on the tram tracks in downtown Belgrade.
In Serbia, collusion between criminals and government officials stretches back to the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early ‘90s. Football hooligans supported the nationalistic cause of late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, and even fought for the cause in organized paramilitary units.