Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Sebian Defence Ministry shipping arms to Iraq

PODGORICA - Montenegro– Hundreds of cases of ammunition and weapons produced by the Serbian Zastava factory in Kragujevac are being flown each week from Podgorica to Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries, Podgorica daily Dan claims.

According to the report the consignments include Kalashnikov assault rifles, hand grenades and ammunition.

All are loaded into Russian Tupolev aircraft at Podgorica’s Golubovci airport after being shipped from the central Serbian state-owned factory to Montenegro in trucks with licence plates from the Serbian city of Cacak.

Montenegrin police secure a hundred-metre perimeter around the aircraft during the loading operations, writes Dan.

The daily quotes unofficial sources as saying that the weapons are delivered to Montenegro from army barracks in Serbia and the entire deal is handled by Montenegro’s Jugoimport Media Mont company, which is the name listed on the customs export declarations.

Sources close to the Defence Ministry say that, after the recent army procurements scandal, the Serbian Finance Ministry has begun checking all weapons deals including this one.

Jugoimport Mont director Zoran Damjanovic confirmed for Dan that the company is involved in arms sales via Podgorica airport and said that he has all the necessary documentation for what he described as a legal deal.

“The goods are being sold by the state and the state is behind the entire deal, so there is no doubt about that. We signed a contract with the Serbia-Montenegro Defence Ministry after we were successful in public bidding. These are business deals between countries. One country is dealing with another and Jugoimport Mont is an intermediary,” Dan quotes Damjanovic as saying.

He added that the state was selling surplus weapons which had been stockpiled in barracks but declined to say where the arms were headed.
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