Serbia's security agency advises spies to turn themselves in
The Security Information Agency (BIA) "has the names and even the phone numbers of the Croatian operatives who recruited and were in contact with Cedo Colovic."Source: Vecernje novosti
The Belgrade-based Vecernje Novosti newspaper is reporting this on Wednesday.
Colovic's arrest was announced late last week. It was shortly after confirmed that he admitted to spying on behalf of Croatia, and received only three years in prison as part of a plea bargain reached with the prosecution.
Now the daily writes that "secret tapes in BIA's possession" and the data the agency has on Colovic's contacts with officers from Croatia's Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA) from the Sibenik department "effectively deny the claims that came from Croatia's top officials."
Namely, they said Croatia had "no connection" with the affair that has shaken the region and that, according to the article, "could add fuel to the fire of the flammable Belgrade-Zagreb relations."
The paper also said it learned that Colovic "entangled as many as ten of our compatriots into his web, coordinated by the SOA, by promising he would use his connections to remove them from a list of war crimes indictees, prepared in secret by Zagreb."
Colovic held the rank of major in the Army of the Republic of Serb Krajina (RSK) during the war in Croatia in the early 1990s and served as a security officer in the 75th Motorized Brigade. He came to Serbia in 1993 after he was wounded. Colovic previously registered his residence here and took Serbian citizenship. He was back in Croatia seven years later, to, as he said, visit his house in the town of Drnis. It was then that he was recruited, intelligence data shows, the daily writes.
Colovic was summoned to the Sibenik department of the SOA and questioned there on several occasions. Serbian intelligence services say that he was offered "a form of cooperation, but also abolition from any prosecution on war crimes charges."
"Colovic gave to the Croatian intelligence officers a list of men who were under his command, but also of his superiors. He told (them) on several occasions about what he knew from the front lines. He was then released and given Croatian citizenship as well. He remained in contact with the SOA all these years, and as we suspect, helped them obtain certain types of information, concerning people who fought in the ranks of the Army of the RSK. The Colovic case is a classic example of an offensive activity toward our citizens and institutions, and how they are forced to commit treason when threatened with a certain kind of indictment," the Belgrade newspaper quoted its source as saying.
The same source said that the case should also serve to "raise citizens' awareness" that espionage is a serious criminal offense and that those who are involved in it ("and they are not few") must be aware that there is "a high degree of probability they will be discovered and prosecuted."
"Many have gotten involved in espionage against their will, and later had no strength to resist, above all out of fear they would be criminally prosecuted and publicly discredited. It's important to stress that if those recruited report to the state organs in a timely manner, there is the possibility of overcoming those problems. Specifically, it makes all the difference if our citizens or foreigners reports their own spying activities, rather than be identified and documented through the work of our service," the source concluded.