Serb says police destroyed files, illegally copied and hid others

April 06, 2001|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia - After the fall of President Slobodan Milosevic, but while his secret police chief remained in office, tons of police documents were destroyed and illegal copies of files on former opposition leaders were spirited away, Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic said yesterday.

"The period from Oct. 5 until Jan. 25 was used for the active destruction of evidence," Mihajlovic told the Serbian parliament.

There also was "unauthorized copying onto CDs of data from the files of all opposition leaders, which was taken away from the service for still unknown reasons," Mihajlovic said. Charges have been filed against people suspected of responsibility for the destruction and theft, he said.

Mihajlovic's announcement could intensify criticism of those who advocated a go-slow approach to dismantling the remains of the Milosevic regime, including Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica.

The interior minister did not say why the illegal copies of files may have been removed. But given the type of surveillance conducted by Milosevic's secret police, such data could give his allies the ability to blackmail the country's new leaders by threatening to release compromising information.

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