Serbian folk diva indicted for stealing millions

March 30th, 2011 - 11:33 am ICT by IANS  

Belgrade, March 30 (IANS/AKI) Serbian folk diva Svetlana Raznatovic has been indicted for allegedly stealing millions of dollars in illegal football player transfers from her Belgrade club to foreign squads, a media report said.

Raznatovic, 37, popularly known as Ceca, has been under investigation for the past eight years and prosecutors confirmed the indictment Monday. She faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted, Belgrade television B92 said Tuesday, citing comments by prosecutors.

Ceca had been married to Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan, late former leader of the Tigers paramilitary suspected war crimes during the 1991-95 war that followed the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia.

Arkan was the owner of a first division Serbian Obilic football club which Ceca inherited after he was murdered in January 2000 in a gang-style killing.

According to the indictment, Ceca, her sister Lidija Velickovic and two other club officials embezzled some four million German marks (2 million euros) and $3.5 million from the sale of Obilic players to foreign clubs.

The transfer money was never paid to the club but to private accounts opened by Ceca and her sister in several European countries, the indictment said. Obilic eventually fell out of the first division and has practically ceased to exist.

Ceca was arrested in March 2003, following the murder of prime minister Zoran Djindic by a Belgrade criminal gang, and spent three months in detention. The police discovered in her Belgrade villa an arsenal of weapons which she claimed were the trophies of her late husband.

Prosecution spokesman Tomo Zoric said last week the probe stretched eight years because the investigators were gathering documents from several European countries.

He confirmed that there had been pressure to prosecute Ceca on the one hand, and to drop the case on the other. Ceca is a close friend of a current Serbian Police Minister Ivica Dacic, but he has said he would not interfere in the case.

–IANS/AKI
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