The Slovenia Times

Most defendants in Balkan Warrior trial plead guilty

Dragan Tošić, the chief defendant in the high-profile Balkan Warrior case.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA
File photo

More than a decade after being exposed in a major sting operation that also involved the US Drug Enforcement Administration, most of the defendants in the Balkan Warrior cocaine trafficking case pleaded guilty, including chief defendant Dragan Tošić, according to a report by the news portal

"It's been enough," Tošić said on leaving the court on 19 January in response to a question why he decided to plead guilty.

In what is a third trial in the case, the prosecution is seeking sentences equal to the time the defendants already spent in prison, according to Neither the defence nor the prosecution would comment on the development.

The portal reported that the judge had already received confessions from Tošić and Jakob Remškar, with further defendants to be processed on 23 January.

The portal commented that the defendants' decision to plead guilty was not surprising after the panel of judges at the Ljubljana District Court excluded part of the evidence that the Slovenian authorities obtained in Serbia.

This includes part of text messages between the defendant Dragan Bjelkaš and Željko Vujanović, an aide to Serbian drug lord Darko Šarić. The messages were obtained in Serbia through wiretaps, and the Serbian Supreme Court ruled last year that they were obtained illegally.

In addition, the Ljubljana court panel also suppressed part of the evidence obtained in Slovenia and Italy.

A dozen defendants in the case are charged with cocaine trafficking and organising transports of the drug from South America, mainly Uruguay. They allegedly smuggled the drug into Slovenia, including via South Africa, and on to Italy.

In the original trial, which started in 2014, most of the 17 defendants at the time walked free following the suppression of wire-tapping evidence obtained in Slovenia and Serbia.

In a retrial most of the defendants were found guilty in March 2018, with Tošić getting 15 years. However, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial in November 2021 over the use of illegally obtained evidence and the defendants were released.

The suspects were arrested in May 2010 in a police sting mounted in cooperation with Serbian law enforcement authorities and the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

The case would become statute barred in less than a year.


More from Crime