A newscast on Serbian-Bosnian television had it that Serb Gen Ratko Mladici had been arrested in Romania by British military. The Romanian counter intelligence service, or SRI, said it was "unable to confirm such an event took place."
The exchange of statements and counter-statements Thursday over the reality or not of Mladiciâs arrest 48-hours before was fascinating.
SRI said "neither the occurrence of such an event, nor the Mladiciâs presence in Romania at some point in time could have been confirmed."
And Cristinel Ghiga, spokesman for the Romanian Ministry of Defense, told Jurnalul National that the ministry "was not commenting on Romanian media pick-ups of statements made in the media outlets in the former Yugoslavia or on information released by Serbian non-governmental organizations."
The rumor regarding Mladiciâs arrest spread around the world in the past three days, fueled by the proverbial rich imagination of the peoples in the Balkans.
Most interestingly, Dragas Orhan, director of the International Institute for Security in Serbia-Montenegro, which is an non-governmental organization, stated in an interview for the radio television station in the Srpska Republic that "Ratko Mladici did not want to surrender, hence a decision was made that the British SAS troops in Romania to capture him Tuesday morning."
Well, that warrants a question on our end: which SAS troops in Romania?
Dragas Orhan, bearer of many hats, spread the news Gen Radko Mladici was arrested in Romania in a joint British-Romanian operation
The interviewee did not answer that question. The information was further picked-up from the website of the Macedonian wire service Makfax, which stated that "It seems that Mladiciâs arrest took place in a joint British-Romanian operation."
Both the International Criminal Court for Former Yugoslavia and the Serbian Government denied since Wednesday Mladiciâs arrest took place.
And the British Defense Ministry told Mediafax news agency that no troops under its command took part in Mladiciâs alleged arrest, reminding that the International Court rejected several times media reports claiming that action occurred.
Orhan, also a businessman, was hard to get to by telephone, Jurnalul National found out Thursday. He is close to the controversial Serbian politician Vuk Draskovici and was even active for a while politically in the latterâs party. Orhan, then, holds several hats: that of a leader of the Slav community of Muslim religion in Montenegro, that of a businessman and that of an NGO centered on regional security issues.
As a political leader he launched in the past years alarming signals about alleged plans for drawing up new border lines in former Yugoslavia. As a businessman he entered the UN radar screen in 2002 for allegedly selling arms to Liberia, a country placed under an arms embargo.
Orhanâs company trading in coffee and cocoa, Trading Company for Special Purpose Merchandise, allegedly covered the arm exports operated by Temeks (TEMEX) Company, owned by his business partner Slobodan Tesici.
In 2004 Orhan proposed PM Vojislav Kostunica that the arms factory part of the Zastava industries in Kragujevat to be taken over by the London Consultants Associates Ltd, which he represented in Serbia and Montenegro, but in fact had only him as operator.
Orhanâs NGO also raised eye-brows. In an interview to Glas Javnosti daily, Orhan said the NGO assisted post-dictatorship regimes from Central Africa to Eastern Europe with expertise and technical help on security issues, and that it held good relationships with foreign intelligence services.
Media sources in Belgrade told Jurnalul National that Orhanâs NGO uses for its endeavors the technology of his Komora System Company, specialized in trading arms and military surveillance and special communications equipment.
Translated by ANCA PADURARU