Belgrade alleges French-backed plot to kill Milosevic
November 25, 1999
From staff and wire reports
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Yugoslavia is holding five people it accuses of being French spies involved in a plot to kill Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, according to Yugoslav Information Secretary Goran Matic.
The men will be tried in Belgrade soon, Matic said. But he provided no compelling evidence that there was indeed an assassination plot against Milosevic.
No immediate comment was available from French authorities.
The alleged agents were arrested on Yugoslav territory about a week ago and said their group was code named "Spider," Matic said in a news conference Thursday.
Matic said French intelligence had been present in Yugoslavia for a decade and that it had been involved in liquidating "undesired citizens" in the country and elsewhere in former Yugoslavia.
"The arrest of this group and the documentation gathered shed new light on the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the involvement of France in that process," Matic said.
Assassination 'material' allegedly found
Matic said Yugoslavias security services had found material outlining different ways of assassinating Milosevic, including a sniper attack and a car bomb.
The information minister said he has compelling evidence to prove the charges, including a videotape secretly recorded in a hotel room in Belgrade. In it, Matic said, one of the accused speaks about having committed similar crimes while working for the French secret service in places such as Bosnia, Zaire and Nigeria. Portions of the tape were shown at the press conference.
Accused spies identified
Matic identified the leader of the group as Jugoslav Petrusic, saying he was a member of the French intelligence service with dual Yugoslav and French citizenship. The other four were either Bosnian or Serbian citizens, Matic said.
"Jugoslav Petrusic has been a member of French intelligence service for some 10 years; he spent some time in Bosnia and Herzegovina and lately he was present in FRY (Yugoslavia)," Matic said.
Matic identified the other four who had been arrested as: Pelemis Milorad, Vlaco Branko, Petrovic Rade and Orasanin Slobodan.
Matic also accused the alleged agents of taking part in the killing of 3,000 Muslims in the town of Srebrenica, Bosnia, in 1995.
In connection with that case, Matic said that at least one of the alleged spies is wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
Matic said the wanted man was traveling freely throughout Europe with a valid visa and was not arrested because he was protected by the French secret service.
Asked who was behind the alleged plan to assassinate Milosevic, Matic said: "I repeat: French intelligence was behind them (those arrested)."
Reuters contributed to this report.
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