Montenegrin police arrest Draskovic attackers

BUDVA, Jun 17, 2000 -- (Reuters) Montenegrin police said on Friday they had arrested the gunmen who wounded Serbian opposition leader Vuk Draskovic in an attack the night before in an Adriatic coastal resort.

Draskovic, a controversial firebrand who was once beaten in prison and later joined the Belgrade government only to be sacked a few months later, accused Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic of responsibility for the shooting.

Authorities in Montenegro, the small pro-Western Yugoslav republic at odds with Milosevic-dominated Serbia, said Draskovic's would-be assassins had come from Serbia and investigators knew who sent them.

"Police are in possession of the attack weapon and are holding the persons who carried it out, together with those who assisted them, but we also know who ordered this crime," said Vuk Boskovic, a senior Montenegrin interior ministry aide.

He told Montenegrin state television in the capital Podgorica that police would name all the perpetrators on Saturday. "(These were) people who came from Serbian territory after Vuk Draskovic came to Montenegro".

Draskovic said he was attacked while in his flat in Budva, a well-known resort on Yugoslavia's scenic Adriatic coast.

"I felt two bullets. One made a hole in my ear," Draskovic said, seated on the living room sofa where he said he was when one or more people opened fire on Thursday night.

There were two bullet holes in the wall behind him and bloodstains on the floor. He said he fell and then crawled away towards the door and hid behind a column. It was then that he felt another bullet graze his temple.


"It is sure they did it and it is also sure that if someone wanted to liquidate me, the government of Serbia had the information beforehand," he said when asked if he thought Milosevic was to blame.

He said he had received information a couple of days earlier that his assassination had been ordered, adding that the arrest of his bodyguards two weeks ago had paved the way for it.

It is clear they will attack me again. They will probably attack a lot of other people in Serbia because that is the way they rule," Draskovic said of the leftist-nationalist parties ruling both Serbia and the Yugoslav federal government.

He was treated in hospital in Kotor, another Montenegrin seashore resort, and later taken into police protection.

Montenegrin police chief Vukasin Maras appeared back at the the house with Draskovic and publicly offered his resignation, saying he felt personally responsible for Draskovic's injuries.

Maras said the attack on Draskovic and the killing of the Montenegrin president's security adviser two weeks ago showed police had to be more aware "that the terror from Belgrade will be transferred to Montenegro".

Earlier, Draskovic's wife Danica tearfully showed reporters the room where he was shot. Asked whom she blamed, she said: "Slobodan Milosevic and (his wife) Mira Markovic, who else?"

Thursday's shooting followed a string of mysterious assassinations of officials and underworld figures in Belgrade.

Milosevic's government has blamed the killings on Western agents it says are intent on destroying and then occupying Serbia, using opposition leaders as their "lackeys". It had no immediate comment on the Draskovic shooting.


Russia, regarded by Milosevic as one of his last allies, condemned the shooting as another blow to chances of democratization in Serbia.

European Union foreign policy representative Javier Solana said it illustrated the sad state of affairs in Serbia.

Serbian authorities have cracked down on opposition protests this year and labeled as "terrorists" Draskovic and others who have campaigned to oust Milosevic since the 1999 NATO air against Yugoslavia waged to halt bloodshed in Kosovo.

Serbian police have also shut down important independent media outlets.

Serbian state television did not report the Draskovic shooting until near the end of its 45-minute prime-time evening newscast on Friday. It said only that Draskovic was admitted to Kotor hospital "following an earlier shooting in Budva. No further details on the incident are available."

Earlier this month Serbian authorities seized Belgrade's Studio B television station which Draskovic controlled through his party's leadership of the city council.

Original article