In the war between Škaljari and Kavac mafia gangs in Montenegro 22 persons have been killed over the last three years.

By: Nemanja Lacman (Standard) / Photo: Pixabay

Sheer brutality and the number of dead bodies make the ongoing bloody feud between two criminal groups in Kotor the most ferocious mafia war currently happening in Europe.

The tourists who visit the bay of Kotor on daily basis and marvel at architectural pearls of the old town probably have no idea about the full-blown war between two criminal gangs that have been going on in this town for several years now.

As the visitors from all over the world visit ancient Kotor palaces and medieval churches, the area outside the old town walls are being terrorized by the warring armies of two major gangs named after the parts of town from which they originate: Škaljari and Kavac gangs.

Before 2015 Kotor was best known as a historical heritage site protected by UNESCO. Today it is known as the Montenegrin Sicily. The war first broke out in the Spanish town of Valencia at the beginning of 2015, when 300 kilos of cocaine “disappeared”. Very soon the war came to Montenegro, and primarily Kotor.

Series of brutal assassinations commenced soon after this event, as early as March 2015, when Vojin Stupar was wounded. He was known to the police for his close connections with Škaljari clan. Vendetta attacks followed one another and hardly a week passed without a new attack in this coastal town.

The next victim in the series of assassinations in Kotor was Ivan Lopičić. He was killed towards the end of June 2015.

Srdjan Pavlović from Podgorica was killed at the beginning of April in the neighborhood of Kotor known as Dobrota. Then the bombs planted under cars started going off.

One of the bomb attacks left Goran Biskupović and Miloš Bošnjka dead. They were killed on 5th September 2016, when an explosive device went off in the Kotor neighborhood of Muo.

The local police, then under command of Igor Popović, was unable to bring the lethal exchange between the warring clans to a stop, so they asked the government of Montenegro for help.

The major finding of the first investigation was that large parts of Kotor were “covered” by surveillance cameras which had not been installed by any of the state agencies.

The investigators suspected that the surveillance network was installed and used by Kotor criminal gangs, however, it was never revealed who and why monitored the town and some of these cameras have not been removed yet.

Couple of days after discovery of the illegal surveillance network, new shootings started happening in broad daylight. The government had to send in the Special Antiterrorist Unit which through numerous actions and searches finally managed to alleviate the situation.

Previous lack of efficiency of the Kotor police was clearly demonstrated in September 2016 when the assistant commander at the Security Department Kotor, Zlatko Samardžić, was arrested for corruption and leaking the information to Kavac gang.

During the interrogation, Samardžić confessed that he had been releasing confidential police information to the members of Kavac gang for a long time, for which reason they always had been one step ahead of the police.

Allegedly, the members of Kavac gang knew about every police action in advance and therefore were able to disappear before the police would come looking for them.   

Another blunder of the Montenegrin police followed very soon. Namely, in December 2016 Jovan Jovanović, member of the Škaljari gang, managed to escape from the police station in Kotor. He escaped while being escorted to the toilet by policeman Milija Bujišić.

For the head of the Police Administration of Montenegro that was too much, on the very same day he dismissed the commander of the police station in Kotor Marko Mišković and policeman Bujišić.

The police launched disciplinary procedure against Bujišić, who was taken in and interrogated for suspicion that he had helped Jovanović escape. He denied the allegations and received only a disciplinary punishment, without being removed from the police force. There was no disciplinary procedure opened against Mijušković, who was simply transferred to another position.

Three months after the spectacular escape, Jovanović was arrested in Germany and extradited to Montenegro in connection with the ongoing trial for shooting at Tivat nightclub “Madam Koko” in 2012, when Dejan Deković from Tivat was wounded.

As early as January 2017, the police once again made the headlines after the discovery that Daliborka Delić, an inspector at the Department for International Police Cooperation, had obstructed investigations against certain members of Kotor gangs through extreme negligence.

It was found that Delić never checked DNA in 427 cases, although she had reported through the electronic database that this has been done and that the cases were closed.

This included information about the movement of suspects from Podgorica, Kotor, Bar, and Budva. It is also suspected that Delić had reported 70 ongoing cases as finalized.

She has been indicted on criminal charges and placed under investigation for alleged malfeasance. She is suspended until completion of the procedure.

Several days later, the Head of Security Centre for Kotor Igor Popović was transferred to a new position. He was replaced by Marko Radusinović who remained at the position for less than a year.

Stojanović dismissed Radusinović at the beginning of 2018 and appointed Živko Ćorić who is still the head of Kotor police. Police announced that Radusinović was assigned to a new position, in accordance with the force needs.

The Outbreak of War and Its Casualties

Before the beginning of this feud, Škaljari and Kavac criminal gangs used to be one and the same criminal organization, and its primary activity, according to police records, was drug smuggling.

However, early in 2015, a shipment of 300 kilos of cocaine disappeared and this caused a rift and formation of two factions.

These new clans, named after the parts of town from which they originated, started exchanging accusations, claiming that the rival gang was responsible for the disappearance of cocaine valued at more than 20 million dollars.

The first victim of this rift was Goran Radoman (37) who was sprayed with bullets in Belgrade in February 2015. Allegedly, Radoman was killed because he was suspected to have hidden the missing cocaine.

A month later, former MP and member of the Liberal Union of Montenegro Saša Marković was killed in Budva.

The media speculated that liquidation of Marković was a message to his best man Goran Djuričković, who was close to Škaljari gang, to return the cocaine, as he was suspected to have been involved in its disappearance.

The members of Kavac gang accused him of theft and tried to kill him while he was still in Valencia. Djuričković was wounded on that occasion and was assassinated in Budva several months later.

It is suspected that he was killed by Srdjan Popović (35) from Banja Luka, a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who was arrested in Vienna and is currently held in detention in Austria.

The police also discovered that Djuričković managed to survive another attempt at his life two months earlier. South African Gregory Michael Feraris from Johannesburg and Aleksandar Marković from Cetinje were arrested on suspicion that they were connected to the planned assassination of Djuričković.

The two of them have been sentenced to 11 years in prison on indictments connecting them to the establishment of a criminal organization and planning Djuričković’s assassination.

Even more brutal assassinations followed, resulting in 19 killings of people connected to Škaljari and Kavac gangs.

According to available reports on completed investigations, the police is certain that the war of Škaljari and Kavac gangs in addition to Radoman, Marković and Djuričković claimed lives of Ivan Lopičić, Radomir Đuričković, Srđan Vlahović, Goran Dučić, Goran Biskupović, Miloš Bošnjak, Dalibor Đurić, Đorđe Boreta, Dragan Zečević, Đorđe Sekulović, Radovan Matović Rakela, Ivan Nedović, Niko Roganović, Boško Božović, Milan Peković, Goran Lenac, Aleksandar Stanković Sale Mutavi, Petar Damjanović and Davorin Baltić.

Police Corruption in Montenegro

The last survey organized by the Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM) on a sample of 1,027 persons has shown that corruption is still a major problem of the Montenegrin society.

As many as 67 percents of adults in Montenegro share this opinion. Police force tops the list of most corrupted officials. As many as 50 percents of respondents believe that policemen are most corrupt.

Survey organized by the Institute Alternative within the POINTPULSE framework on 1,000 respondents had similar results. More than half of citizens (57%) consider the corruption in police to be present to some or highest extent.

The Minister of Justice Zoran Pažin and representatives of the EU in Montenegro agree that actions against corruption have not been satisfactory.

On many occasions, they repeated that there are only minor breakthroughs and that the institutions in charge must do much more.  


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TAGS: AnalysisInternal ControlMontenegroOrganized Crime