Yugoslavia is experiencing a loud scandal. The government called an extraordinary session to dismiss the director general of the Yugoimport export trading company, Jovan Cekovic, and Yugoslav Deputy Minister of Defense General-Colonel Ivan Jokic. The dismissal is caused by the fact that information appeared proving illegal arms sales of Yugoimport to Iraq. The deputy defense minister was also accused of illegal sales of arms and military equipment to Iraq.
Yugoimport is a state-owned company; Serb Minister for Internal Affairs Dusan Mihailovic is the chairman of the Board of Directors in the company. Right before the extraordinary session of the government, Dusan Mihailovic said he knew nothing about the arms sales, but agreed that the issue must be settled. The Ministry of Defense also denies its guilt.
The Yugoslav government asked competent authorities to audit the work of Yugoimport and other organizations involved in the arms trade. The people guilty of the illegal arms sales are to be brought into criminal account; The Yugoimport representative office in Baghdad must be closed and a special commission to examine activity of the Defense Ministry must be set up. Russian news agency RIA Novosti informs that the Yugoslav government once again proves its participation in “the struggle against terrorism.”
Belgrade’s newspaper Blic reported yesterday that the Bosnian factory Orao was probably connected with Yugoimport (Americans suspect Orao of supplying aviation equipment to Iraq). The newspaper provided evidence alleging that international peacemakers in Bosnia found documents at the plant that prove that military equipment had been supplied to Iraq through Yugoimport. It is supposed that Ex-Minister for Foreign Trade, and incumbent councilor of the Yugoslav Embassy in Iraq Borisa Vukovic authorized the supplies.
International observers say that the embargo on weapon sales to Iraq was broken. In addition, as the AP informs, experts say that Yugoslavia not only sold weapons to Iraq, but even helped Baghdad with to create air defense systems.
Radio Jugoslavija quotes Serb Minister for Internal Affairs Dusan Mihailovic as saying that if the investigation confirms the information on illegal weapons supplies, “officials involved in this criminal activity will be punished in accordance with the law.”