MON, 11 JUL 1994 22:13:42 GMTA year after the discovery of weapons at Maribor Airport
Soon, i.e. on July 21, it will be exactly a year since 11 containers full of weapons and ammunition were discovered at Maribor Airport amongst twenty containers of humanitarian relief for Bosnia and Herzegovina. On that occasion, the then and now already ex-defence minister, Janez Jansa, held a press conference and informed the public that "internal" sources ( what that means is not known even today ) had found out that Silvo Komar, head of the Security - Information Service for the area of Maribor, keeps large quantities of weapons and ammunition in the airport storehouses.
Why, asked Jansa and immediately made several interesting statements which even hinted that a coup de etat was being prepared in Slovenia. Namely, the then minister emphasized that the discovered weapons were intended neither for Croatia nor B&H and that they were "properly classified and ready for immediate use". According to him, probably a well organized network of weapon dealers and middlemen who surely have very good connections in the influential circles of Slovenia, is behind all this. Or - plainly speaking - probably President Kucan is behind all this, because Silvo Komar is his former party colleague... The fact that the President of the state was preparing a coup against that state was not very clear, but most people nevertheless did not fall for such provocations.
It was soon found out that the discovered weapons were intended for Bosnia and Herzegovina, i.e. their official Army and that the head man in this weapons deal was Hasan Cengic. But, although this fact was known to everyone, there was no official confirmation, because Cengic refused to appear in court, where proceedings against Komar and the other participants had been going on for months, or before the Parliamentary Commission of Slovenia investigating this case. But, at the beginning of July, Hasan Cengic, nevertheless, appeared before the Parliamentary Commission and consented to a detailed interrogation. He explained his silence so far with his respect for Slovenia and his wish to spare it because it had helped his state. He did not want to interfere with the internal political games linked to that case, but he has now decided to speak because Slovenia has already done enough damage to itself by spreading stories about this affair. He estimated that this case had cost Slovenia several million American dollars. For, things are clear. Neither Slovenia nor Bosnia and Herzegovina have permits for imports of weapons.
Cengic, who introduced himself as a Bosnian-Herzegovinian diplomat and special envoy of the Government and the President of B&H Alija Izetbegovic, claims that he discussed and agreed all forms of cooperation related to the transport of humanitarian and other aid with the Slovenian leadership. President Kucan only knew that assistance to B&H would be sent through Slovenian territory, which was approved by the Slovenian Government, while Cengic arranged specific deals, including the one concerning the weapons in Maribor, with the competent ministers - the Minister of Internal Affairs (Igor Bavcar at the time) and Defence Minister Janez Jansa. But, Jansa did not take part in the case of the Maribor weapons. Perhaps that is why he "discovered" the whole case?!? It is by all means clear that the emphasis on this specific deal with Izetbegovic's authorities is strange, when it is well known that the Slovenian leadership had agreed to such forms of cooperation in principle, because it had assessed that assistance to B&H meant the better defence of Slovenia also. Namely, this was published in the papers too. Janez Jansa, the then Defence Minister was one of the first people in Slovenia who were well informed of, i.e. even among those who had designed such a policy.
And while over the last year Jansa pretended not to know anything about any such agreements and even stated that Cengic was some sort of a private dealer, who had never proved to be the representative of the B&H authorities, Cengic's statements before the Commission set up at Jansa's request are not very pleasant for the former Defence Minister and current president of the Slovenian Socio-Democratic Party. Namely, although Cengic stressed that Jansa had no part in that specific deal, he spoke about their cooperation ever since 1992. "Minister Jansa did not give even a single weapon without taking a whole helicopter worth US dollars 4.1 million as security" claims Cengic. "At a meeting, on September 7, 1992 we requested that the helicopter be returned to the Minstry of the Interior of Bosnia and Herzegovina and that it would pay all it owes to the Ministry of Slovenia. Minister Jansa then offered a piece paper with the figure of DM 3.119 million on it.
I asked him to furnish additional documentation and to lower the price because it seemed too high to me and the document was not complete. I asked for a bill, i.e. for payment in cash. Mr.Jansa promised to send the complete documentation to the address I gave him in Zagreb and to inform me of the manner of payment, but I have received nothing to date", said Cengic.
Many parts of his story are interesting and clearly show that not only the entire Slovenian leadership, but also lower echelons of police and military officials, were involved in the deals with weapons for B&H. After the interrogation in Parliament, a report was made, but it has not yet officially seen the light of day. It is also interesting that the President of the Commission for investigating the smuggling of arms, omitted in his statement to the public all the spicy details related to the financial aspects and everything related to Jansa.
But, it seems that Cengic has protected himself and published a recording (probably his own) of the interrogation in the Moslem weekly "Ljiljan" which comes out in Ljubljana. The following day a smaller part of the recording was published by the Ljubljana "Delo", while the "Republika" carried the integral text. Reactions were instantaneous - both by Brejc, the then Head of the Security - Information Service, and by Jansa, who are members of the same party. They in fact claim that the recording is not authentic. But, according to our information from confidential sources in the Slovenian Parliament, that is not true. Namely, the recording of the part of the interrogation published in the "Ljiljan" is, according to our sources, identical to the transcript of Cengic's testimony. One thing is clear. This affair, like all the others being produced in Slovenia from day to day, are doing it more harm than good.