Željko Ražnatović

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Željko Ražnatović ( Serbian - Cyrillic Жељко Ражнатовић * 17th April 1952 in Brežice , Yugoslavia ; † 15. January 2000 in Belgrade , Yugoslavia), known as Arkan , was during the Yugoslav Wars leader of the paramilitary Serbian Volunteer Guard , ultranationalist politician ( SSJ ) and alleged leading gang criminal and war criminal .


Criminal career

Željko Ražnatović was born on April 17, 1952 in Brežice, the son of Veljko Ražnatović. The father was stationed there as an officer in the Yugoslav Air Force. He grew up in Zagreb and Kosovo and moved to Belgrade with his family as a teenager .

Ražnatović ran away from home for the first time when he was nine years old. At the age of 14 he committed his first handbag robbery in Belgrade's Tašmajdan Park and finished the eighth and last grade of elementary school in the Novi Sad youth prison . At the age of 17, he received a year and a half imprisonment for further thefts.

After his release from prison, he lived in various European countries from the 1970s to the early 80s where he was accused of murder and robbery , including Sweden , Italy , Belgium , Germany and the Netherlands . He was convicted of criminal offenses in Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands. He is also said to have been involved in protection rackets and illegal gambling across Europe . In 1972 he got into shootings in Milan with the clan of Ljubomir Magaš , called Ljuba Zemunac. In 1974 he was put out to be wanted via the Stockholm Interpol office. In 1977, the Belgrade Interpol office also applied for an arrest warrant for an armed robbery in 1974. Sentenced to prison terms, he was able to escape. So in 1977 from the Belgian Verviers prison , 1979 from the police custody in Malmö , 1981 from the Over Amstel prison in Amsterdam and the prison hospital in Frankfurt am Main and 1983 from the Swiss Thorberg .

After 1980 began its cooperation with the Yugoslavian interior ministry or the secret service. Vojislav Šešelj , leader of the Serbian Radical Party , accused Ražnatović of working as a contract killer for the Yugoslav secret service in the 1980s .

He returned to Belgrade in the mid-1980s. In 1983, he and the police engaged in a shooting in his mother's apartment. He injured a policeman with a leg shot. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution ended the shooting. Ražnatović was released after two days in detention. The Federal Intelligence Service suspected him of murdering the three Albanian emigrants from Kosovo, Jusuf Gërvalla , Bardhosh Gërvalla and Kadri Zeka on January 17, 1982 in Untergruppenbach .

In Football

After the political rise of Slobodan Milošević in 1987 and 1988, Ražnatović went legal. First, he founded a company in Belgrade which received the exclusive rights to market fan merchandise from the Red Star Belgrade football club . In 1989 he became chairman of the Delije fan club , a football club known as national Serbian . He had political protection for these functions. He was active in the football club's fan scene and used hooligans for politically motivated actions.

Yugoslav Wars

On October 11, 1990, Ražnatović founded the Serbian Paramilitary Volunteer Guard ( Srpska Dobrovoljačka Garda ) in the Serbian Orthodox Monastery Pokajnica . The core of this force came from the ranks of the hooligan group Delije from Red Star Belgrade, Ražnatović was their commander. On November 29, 1990 Ražnatović was arrested along with several armed men at the Croatian Dvor . After being sentenced to 20 months in prison, he was released six months later. Then he was with the SFG in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia , including in the cities of Vukovar , Bijeljina , Zvornik , Ključ and Sanski Most , where the unit fought against Croatian and Bosnian units .

During the war, the Serbian Volunteer Guard participated in ethnic cleansing . This resulted in massive rapes, expulsions and massacres in which civilians were killed in large numbers; for example, “Arkan's tigers” include the killing of more than 100 patients in Vukovar hospital and the killing of more than 200 civilians (Cafe Istanbul) in Bijeljina. Later his unit was also used in the Kosovo war .

In the time between his missions in Croatia and Bosnia, he used his militia to kill his opponents in the criminal milieu of Belgrade and to expand his role in the underworld.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia charged him with genocide and displacement of non-Serbs.

In 1992 Ražnatović founded the Stranka Srpskog Jedinstva (Party of Serb Unity) which ran in Kosovo and won four seats in Skupština . In the new elections in 1993, the party was unsuccessful.

After the end of the war

In 1995 Ražnatović married the turbo folk singer Svetlana Veličković "Ceca". The wedding with many prominent guests was broadcast on Serbian television.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague brought charges against Ražnatović in September 1997 for genocide and the expulsion of non-Serbs from parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina . The British government accused him of having been active in Kosovo as well .

With the help of his fortune gained during the war and through his criminal activities, Ražnatović acquired the Belgrade football club FK Obilić , which he also used for money laundering. He was unable to attend his club's away games in European competitions because he had to expect his arrest due to the arrest warrant issued by the International War Crimes Tribunal.


Ražnatović's tomb in Belgrade

On January 15, 2000, Ražnatović was shot dead together with two bodyguards in the lobby of the Intercontinental Hotel in Belgrade . The alleged perpetrators, Dragan Nikolić "Gagi", Dobroslav Gavrić, Milan Đuričić "Miki" and Zoran Nikolić "Pegla", were charged with murder in 2001 but later released for lack of evidence. The trial against the alleged bomber was tried three times, but the verdicts were rejected each time. Nikolić was last sentenced to 15 years in prison for murder in 2005 ; however, the verdict against him was again annulled in 2006 by the Serbian Supreme Court and referred back to the trial court. The perpetrators of the murder and their motives are still in the dark. Several witnesses were murdered during the trial. In the article published in the daily newspaper Die Welt under the heading “Arkan died as he lived - like a dog”, three murder theories are presented. The second thesis, victims of the regime, states: “The American television station NBC also reported some time ago that Arkan had contacted a Belgian lawyer through his American-Italian lawyer Giovanni di Stefano in order to sound out whether a deal with the Hague War Crimes Tribunal was possible. Arkan was ready to provide information on the involvement of leading Serbian politicians in war crimes if he himself was no longer prosecuted by the tribunal ”.


  • Christopher S. Steward: Hunting the Tiger: The Fast Life and Violent Death of the Balkans' Most Dangerous Man . St. Martin's Press, New York 2008, ISBN 978-0-312-35606-4 .
  • Norbert Mappes-Niediek : Balkan Mafia: States in the hands of crime - a danger for Europe . 2nd updated and expanded edition. Ch. Links Verlag, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-86153-313-8 , prototype "Arkan", a revered war and peace criminal in Serbia, p. 37-42 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Federal Institute for Eastern and International Studies (Ed.): Reports of the Federal Institute for Eastern and International Studies . tape 26–41 , 1999, pp. 17 : "In the autumn of 1993 he founded the ultra-nationalist" Party of Serb Unity "(Stranka Srpskog Jedinstva, SSJ), which has its seat in the Albanian region of Kosovo."
  2. a b c d e f Robert Thomas: Serbia under Milošević: politics in the 1990s. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 1999, ISBN 978-1-85065367-7 , pp. 94-95
  3. a b c d e f g h i j Mappes-Niediek 2003 (see literature).
  4. a b c report on Arkan's death in "Die Welt"
  5. a b c d Hajo Funke : Under our eyes. Ethnic Purity: The Politics of the Milosevic Regime and the Role of the West. Berlin, Das Arabische Buch, 1999, p. 113.
  6. Blic: Stane Dolanc: Arkan harder than the entire authority ( Memento from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  7. How the hooligans of Red Star Belgrade became murderers. The tiger's blood trail. Philipp Köster in 11 Freunde 10/2017, published online on November 26, 2017
  8. Miloš Vasić: Dossier Arkan.
  9. ^ Vojislav Šešelj's testimony before the Hague Tribunal. August 25, 2005
  10. welt.de Notorious militia chief "Arkan" shot. January 16, 2000
  11. spiegel.de Serbian militia chief "Arkan" shot dead, January 16, 2000
  12. rp-online.de ( Memento of the original from June 8, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Speculation about the attacker "Arkans" Opposition: Milosevic is interested in the death of the militia leader, January 16, 2000 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.rp-online.de
  13. indictment of the Hague war crimes tribunal against Raznjatovic.
  14. welt.de: The criminal ascent of FK Obilic.
  15. Vreme: Murder of Arkan - 6 months later.
  16. Blic: All accused for the murder of Arkan in freedom.  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.blic-europa.com  
  17. B92 Revija: Eyewitnesses pay with their heads ( Memento of September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  18. Southeast European Times: Witness at the trial of Arkan murdered in Belgrade. ( Memento from February 3, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  19. Arkan died as he lived - like a dog. Die Welt , January 17, 2000.