Details emerge from Đukanović questioning

Milo Đukanović said that issuing of cigarette import licenses was necessary for Montenegro's survival.

Source: Beta

This was revealed today by the Montenegrin premier's lawyer Enrico Tuccillo, one day after Đukanović gave his statement to Italian prosecutors in Bari, concerning his alleged involvement in cigarette smuggling in the 1990s.

The prime minister also told the prosecutors that it was necessary for the Montenegrin ministers of the time to open Swiss bank accounts, so that they could purchase medicines and other goods necessary for the survival of the nation, "caught in between the [international] sanctions and the Milošević regime".

Tuccillo told the daily Vijesti in Podgorica today that the Italians took notice of the fact Đukanović showed up for questioning of his own accord, and that this move is "clear proof that he has nothing to hide", and is not in contempt of the investigation, ongoing for several years.

"Đukanović could have fallen back on his immunity and no one would have been able to interrogate him, but he decided to cooperate with the court. He is entitled to the diplomatic immunity and because of this the court procedure cannot continue, but we will, regardless of this, prove that my client has been wrongfully accused and is innocent," the lawyer said.

the Italian media yesterday reported that Đukanović told prosecutors he had no role in cigarette smuggling, that accusations against him were "pure lies", and that Montenegro was never a lawless country where Mafiosi from Puglia or Swiss entrepreneurs were able to for years smuggle thousands of tons of cigarettes each month.

Đukanović is investigated for alleged gains that he made from the lucrative illegal trade.

He told the public broadcaster RTCG last night that his decision to make the statement in Italy came in order to remove the burden from his own and Montenegro's name.

This burden, according to Đukanović, came less from the investigation itself, and more from "political interpretations of the investigation by the media in Belgrade, and some in Montenegro".


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