City and republic authorities “loosen the purse strings”, main star ends up behind the bars
Criminal past, but also the present, of some members of the martial arts club “Hektor team” from Laktaši did not avert the City of Banja Luka, Cabinet of the President of Republika Srpska, and certain ministries of the RS Government of sponsoring their fight night.
Written by: Investigative team of eTrafika; Cover photo: Hektor team (official poster)
“Hektor fight night” was proudly held in the Borik hall in Banjaluka, and the event was specially opened by the mayor of the city of Banjaluka Draško Stanivuković. The main spectacle of the evening, which was announced for months in advance, should have been the fight involving Čedo TDI Pantić, who is also the most famous fighter of this club.
Public “traces” of the arrest erased
However, his name and photo were removed from all the posters and announcements a few days before the fight. This is how, as eTrafika learns, the organizers tried to hide the fact that he was arrested only a few days before the fight. The fact that he was immediately assigned one month of detention also shows how serious the crime was.
As eTrafika learns, he was arrested together with S.P. from Modriča and G. I, a person with a criminal record, for whom an international warrant was issued at the time. The police and the prosecutor’s office charge them with money extortion.
The premises used by him were searched and evidence was found that was linked to the crime of extortion. Pantić was in Novi Sad for the preparation training, and he was handcuffed immediately upon his return to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Interestingly, the RS Ministry of Internal Affairs itself, which sends extensive press releases and photographs for much lighter crimes, was silent this time. Our portal is in possession of a photograph that testifies to the mentioned arrest, which was tried to be hidden, because the goal was to cover up the scandal.
Conviction for an attempted murder
Members of the aforementioned club were arrested for violent behavior, racketeering, but also for beating and attempted murder of journalist Vladimir Kovačević in Banjaluka.
A member of this club, Marko Čolić, aka Roda, was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for the attempted murder of Kovačević, then a journalist of BN Television. According to the verdict, Čolić, together with Nedeljko Dukić from Kneževo, committed the crime on August 26, 2018. They waited for Kovačević in front of the building where he lives and brutally beat him on the head and body with the clubs.
“Čolić approached Kovačević from the front and hit him on the head with a club, and Dukić approached him from behind. They were hitting him together for some time, sending Kovačević to the ground, and while he was lying, Dukić and Čolić continued to beat him,” the verdict reads.
Kovačević suffered a serious injury in the attack, a contusion of the brain, and several minor head injuries. His lips, both ears, shoulders, upper leg and lower leg were also injured.
Kovačević told eTrafika that “Hektor” is a private club whose owners are close to the authorities in Srpska.
“That’s why it’s clear how and why this club, like some other clubs, is financed. Look at the example of Igokea, which was created and grew at the expense of basketball in Banjaluka. Whether such and similar clubs are used to recruit people who are then doing the dirty work is a question for competent institutions. Another question is for Stanivuković, namely why is he, as the mayor, cooperating with such persons? It is not illegal, but it is rather strange,” Kovačević said.
Incidentally, Predrag Stanković, son of Buda Stanković, who is the best man of RS President Milorad Dodik, is behind the “Hektor team” club.
Questionable disbursement of funds
Nevertheless, this colorful history did not hinder the support of the city and Republic institutions. The city of Banjaluka approved BAM 50.000 for the organization of the international kickboxing show “Hektor fight night 4”, while the Cabinet of the President of Srpska and the Government of RS did not release precise figures.
Our interlocutors point out that sponsoring of sports clubs and events is desirable, but we still need to pay attention to whom the money is disbursed. Ivana Korajlić, director of “Transparency International” for Bosnia and Herzegovina, has also confirmed that something is not right in disbursement of public funds.
“The disbursement of money to “regular” clubs is also controversial, because many of the clubs are headed by various officials and people from the government. So the money is disbursed according to other criteria”, Korajlić expained.
She stresses that the TIBiH has also conducted research on the non-transparency of associations that receive money from the government.
“There are associations that are constantly receiving assistance, and are engaged in the spread of nationalism and hatred. The purpose of sponsoring such associations becomes particularly distinct before the elections. There is no control over the way in which they spend the money that they receive from public institutions,” said Korajlić.
According to her, there must be a way to control who is given the money.
“It needs to be verified who is representing these clubs before any funds are disbursed. It has to be verified if these persons were convicted of serious crimes, or if there is an investigation being conducted against them for different crimes, and only then make a decision on the disbursement of funds”, concluded Korajlić.