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US-Sanctioned Bosnians Demand Proof of Their Wrongdoing

Osman Mehmedagic, former director of Bosnia’s Intelligence and Security Agency and now sanctioned by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, OFAC, reacted to the penalty by saying that the “accusations are unfounded and false”.

The OFAC said Mehmedagic had used his position to abuse the state-owned telecommunications company, BH Telecom, for “the benefit of Party of Democratic Action, SDA,” the biggest Bosniak party in the country, using cellular data to follow the movements of politicians not affiliated with the SDA.

“I will defend my honour and professional integrity that I have built up over the years in every possible legal way, so I once again call on the US Treasury Department not to question my reputation and their own with blanket accusations,” Mehmedagic, who was replaced on February 23, said in a press release.

The OFAC stated that it has “also credible information that Mehmedagic has collaborated with criminal networks to enrich himself and his political party”.

The SDA also asked OFAC and US embassy to Bosnia to publish evidence on their claims.

“We again request that instead of heavy and general accusations against the SDA, the domestic public and the judiciary are presented clearly and unambiguously with evidence: which politicians were followed, when, in what period, what kind of enrichment, in what way, which people got rich, through which criminal network, how much money,” it said.

Until this happens, it added, the “SDA will consider the heavy and untrue accusations that are periodically repeated only as additional pressure, aimed at trying to force the SDA out of power”.

Mehmedagic was the second SDA member to be sanctioned by the US in only five months, after the Federation entity’s prime minister, Fadil Novalic, was added to the list for “undermining democracy”.

BH Telecom, the biggest telecommunications company in Bosnia, also asked for evidence of wrongdoing, recalling Bosnia’s tough legal framework when it comes to communication interception.

“We call on the US embassy to submit … information and knowledge about the possible abuse of the telecommunications system of BH Telecom to the competent judicial institutions of BiH, because the claims made in the [US] explanation cause immeasurable reputational damage to our company,” BH Telecom stated. Its director general, Sedin Kahriman, is also a president of the SDA in Canton Sarajevo, on of ten cantons in the Federation entity.

The US has also slapped sanctions on Dragan Stankovic, director of the Administration for Geodetic and Property Affairs in Bosnia’s other entity, Republika Srpska, RUGIPP.

It headed the first Law on Immovable Property in the RS, which was declared unconstitutional at state level in September last year. By doing so, the US said Stankovic had “undermined the 1995 Dayton peace accords”, which ended the 1992-95 war in Bosnia.

“The former world policeman, the US, once again brazenly and arrogantly reached for sanctions against persons from Republika Srpska, all under the guise of democracy,” RUGIPP stated.

“The administration headed by Stankovic will continue to perform tasks within its jurisdiction in accordance with the constitution and laws of Republika Srpska, without referring to the mentioned US sanctions,” it said, adding that Stankovic does not have any property in the US anyway.

Besides Mehmedagic and Stankovic, the US also sanctioned Edin Gacanin “Tito”, leader of the notorious Tito and Dino cartel and “one of the world’s most prolific drug traffickers.”

The sanctions freeze all the named persons’ property and their interests in property in the United States, which must be reported to OFAC.

Source : BalkanInsight