Eurojust: Drug smugglers caught in Operation Familia should be tried in Croatia

Eurojust: Drug smugglers caught in Operation Familia should be tried in Croatia

Eurojust: Drug smugglers caught in Operation Familia should be tried in Croatia Izvor: Ilustracija, Shutterstock

Under an agreement with representatives of institutions of all the countries that participated in Operation Familia and Eurojust, criminal proceedings against people who smuggled 600 kilograms of cocaine from South America to Europe and the Middle East should be conducted mostly in Croatia, the Croatian anti-corruption agency USKOK said on Monday.

Croatia is in the best position to prosecute the organised criminal group whose members, including a Croatian national, were arrested in July while transporting 600 kilograms of cocaine, it was decided at a meeting at Eurojust, which was attended, along with USKOK officials, by Czech, Italian, French and Swiss prosecutors.

During this international operation, Montenegrin national Michael Dokovich, Czech national Ales Skolnik and Croatian national Silvio Beljevic were arrested in Basel on July 13 and were extradited to Croatia in November. The three men are charged, together with five other persons, with conspiracy to smuggle drugs, abuse of authority, document forgery and illegal possession of weapons.

Dokovich is charged with forming a criminal group which smuggled large quantities of cocaine aboard jet planes from South America to Europe and the Middle East. Dokovich was born in Podgorica as Iljmija Frkljucic. He has used numerous pseudonyms since and was under investigation by US security services several times.

US media have reported about Dokovich several times, saying that he was one of the first people in the USA who committed computer fraud, and he was also brought into connection with a group responsible for arson, insurance and bank fraud, theft of postal parcels, drug smuggling and robberies of jeweller's stores.

After the transfer of the three accused from Switzerland, Croatia now has in its custody five accused in the case. The search is still underway for two more persons from Serbia and a national of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Serbia has launched the procedure to transfer prosecutorial activities in the case to Croatia. Criminal proceedings are also under way in the Czech Republic against the Czech national, the remaining member of the criminal group, who was arrested in that country.

Operation Familia was carried out by Croatian authorities in cooperation with the relevant institutions of the Czech Republic, Serbia, Switzerland and France. Slovenia, Belgium and the Netherlands as well as Italy contributed to the investigation.

The implementation of this complex operation has resulted in the confiscation of one million euro in cash as well as luxury items worth several hundred thousand euro, found in Dokovich's car and house in Zagreb's Sestine neighbourhood. Owing to the results of the operation, an additional 421 kilograms of cocaine were found and confiscated in Hong Kong.

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