Police Kanban

Why don’t the police use a public Kanban board to show the progress of criminal cases through the system?

Their workrate and priorities could be assessed openly. It would be great for transparency. Victims and journalists and other interested parties could track cases without needing to call the police.

This occurred to me after reading about some dreadful case in Sweden where a child rape victim’s case had not been processed after a year, and her attackers were still roaming about in the community as they all waited for the police to investigate. Journalists were calling the police for updates. The lack of transparency combined with public ignorance about both the scale of certain crimes and polices under resourcing all contributed to the situation.

Making the police workload publicly visible could really help focus resourcing discussions.

Jill Dando murder: Police investigate Serbian hitman theory

It would appear that the UK’s Metropolitan Police service is now formally investingating the conspiracy theory that the Serbian secret service killed Jill Dando in 1999.

I suspect is is more to do with the police having something to say as the 10th anniversary approaches rarther than a seriouse effort to solve the crime via what can be described as tenous evidence (at best).

Jill Dando murder: Police investigate Serbian hitman theory | UK news | guardian.co.uk

See also a previous post on this at Limbicnutrition.

Loose lips can get you arrested or, why you should NEVER talk to the police

Fascinating set of videos and commentary from the Civil Liberties Examiner on why talking to the cops is always a bad idea.

So, the police are investigating a crime, and in the course of their investigation, they come to chat with you about what you know or may have seen. You’ve done nothing wrong, so you have no objections to sitting down with the investigating officers and telling what little you may know. But the questioning becomes more intense, you find yourself stumbling over facts that don’t seem important to you, but have the police pricking up their ears. And suddenly you realize that you’re not just a helpful witness; now you’re a suspect.

What did you do wrong?

The answer, unfortunately, is that you talked yourself into trouble — yes, even innocent people can do that. You’ve probably heard that before from your paranoid brother-in-law, or a lawyer friend, but you didn’t do anything. Who would have believed that your life could be turned upside down by a few words?

Prof. James Duane of the Regent University School of Law is one of the people who does believe that loose lips sink … well, not ships, but reputations and even lives. In an engaging and lively 27-minute lecture (I know, I know — but it’s worth watching), without assuming any malice on the part of the police, he explains just how you can talk yourself into trouble, and why you shouldn’t talk to the police at all when suspicion wanders in your direction.

Part 1

Part 2

Civil Liberties Examiner – Loose lips can get you arrested or, why you shouldn’t talk to the police – Examiner.com

George Galloway blames Jill Dando murder on Yugoslavia

[Update: Jill Dando murder: Police investigate Serbian hitman theory – Guardian. I am still not even remotely convinced, mostly because of the total lack of any evidence, but the MET taking it seriously (if they are not just paying lip service to the idea) gives it credence.]

Left wing lunatic George Galloway has announced that he thinks Yugoslav agents killed BBC presenter Jill Dando in 1999:

I’ll tell you who I think it was, now, as I did back then nearly a decade ago.

Just days before Miss Dando was murdered, British war-planes bombed the main television station in Belgrade, then capital of Yugoslavia, murdering 16 people.

It was a brazen and bloody war-crime, denounced by Britain’s journalists union as an assault on journalists everywhere.

The Yugoslavs didn’t have the wherewithal to bomb the BBC in revenge, but they were plenty capable of exacting a price from an individual BBC personality.

In the long and usually quiet cold war, Britain fought to break up Yugoslavia – for nearly 50 years the BBC World Service was a nest of emigres and anti-Yugoslav dissidents fanning the flames of separatism – there were occasional eruptions of Belgrade’s retaliation. One, I recall, in Fife, in which an exiled opponent was gunned down in the streets of the kingdom.

I believe that an agent of the former Yugoslavia gunned down Jill Dando in retaliation for the murder of their television workers.

Some say there would not have been enough time to plan such a crime between the two events (not a point which seems to have occurred to those who pointed the finger at Barry George, who had no time or brain cells to plan it).

But Dando may already have been targeted for her earlier high-profile hosting of a Kosovan fundraising appeal event which turned into an anti-Belgrade jamboree.

In any case, intelligence services, at least those as capable as that of Slobodan Milosovic, are aye ready to kill at the drop of a hat.

Ask the family of Dr David Kelly.

Coincidence = Evidence.  The staple of conspiracy nuts everywhere.

Did Dando pay the price for Belgrade bombing? – The Daily Record

Croatian Jews condemn Ustasha funeral

Interesting tidbit from Croatia (one of my all time favorite countries).

ZAGREB — Croatia’s Jewish community has objected to the way the funeral of a WW2 Ustasha camp commander was organized.

Dinko Šakić, a former commander at the Jasenovac death camp, died on July 20.

“Burying the commander of the Jasenovac death camp in his Ustasha uniform, and the speech by the priest Vjekoslav Lasić, who said that the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was the foundation of today’s ‘Croatian Homeland’, have impelled us to bring to the attention of the Croatian public and government that a funeral is a public gathering, and that several transgressions took place during that funeral,” a statement reads.

Vice-President of the Jewish Community Jasminka Domas claimed “the disgraceful events that occurred at the funeral of Dinko Šakić in Zagreb insult the memory of all the victims of the Ustasha regime, and besmirch the Republic of Croatia’s good name.”

Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem Efraim Zuroff has written to Croatian President Stjepan Mesić to express his anger at the way Šakić’s funeral was organized and at the priest’s speech.

Šakić, who died aged 87, served his sentence in Lepoglava prison, but was transferred to the prison hospital in Zagreb on health grounds.

[From B92 – News – Region – Croatian Jews condemn Ustasha funeral]

Jasenovac was a truly dreadful camp. Not only were tens of thousands of Jews murdered there, but hundreds of thousands of Serbs along with Roma and Croatian Partisans.

The attempted genocide of the Serbs in WW2 is still a source of anger in Serbia today.

Family Injustice – the travesty of the UK family courts

Last summer I was enjoying a drink with a friend in his apartment overlooking the Thames and Canary Wharf. His adorable little three year old daughter was entertaining us with songs and dancing and other antics. At one point she sat on his knee and asked what he was drinking. After he told he it was beer she asked if she could taste it, which is what you would expect a curious child to ask. He said yes, but before he could raise the glass to the child’s lips his wife exploded in anger and shouted “No! What are you doing? Do you want them to take her!?”

It transpired that “them” were local social workers who had taken an interest in the child, lets call her M, after they had discovered some bruising on her back (she had fallen). They had subjected her mother to what she describes as fierce interrogation. Why is she so small, is she being fed properly? Where did these bruises come from etc.

Now two minutes with this family would convince anyone that M is both adored and adoring. One might even say as an only child she is bit pampered. M is healthy, her parent are wealthy working professionals and she lacks for nothing. Despite this he mother lives in fear that the social workers will get the wrong idea. Someone swearing in front of the chid caused near panic because she might repeat the word in front of the social worker, same with the beer incident, “what would happen if they found out we gave her beer!”.

It all seemed a bit paranoid to me, so I gently suggested as much. “They are taking children all the time”, M’s mother told me, ” in secret courts. Parents are genuinely scared of messing with these people”.

I knew that the family courts were absurdly cruel to fathers and that Father For Justice were making good progress in righting the injustices there. But secret draconian courts confiscating children. I thought she had lost her mind.

I was wrong.

In December 2006, Camilla Cavendish, a journalist from the Times newspaper, learned of a dreadful case that just gone through the family courts, a routine case of gross injustice that had come to typify the family courts.

The nub of the case is this. A woman, let us call her Janie, gave birth to her first and only child a year ago. That baby was taken away from her and subsequently put up for adoption. Not because of her own failure to care for the baby — her own love and care never seem to have been in question. No. She has lost her baby because of a suspicion that her husband John may have injured another child in his previous marriage almost ten years ago.

The suspicion was no more than that. John was never charged with anything, let alone convicted. Social workers were never sufficiently worried to take that first child into care. Since his divorce John has shared custody of that child perfectly amicably with his ex-wife. Yet the same local authority which left the first child with him has forbidden him to see this new baby. And his new wife, despite having nothing to do with the first case, may never see her baby again. [Family courts are the B-side of the law, The Times, December 21st 2006]

Cavendish was so outraged by this case started investigating the Family Court and the UK’s care system. What she discovered was so shocking that The Times newspaper launched a campaign for justice in the Family Courts.

As readers have found out more about the family Courts and the care system outrage has grown and the campaign had gathered strength. The issue is now finally getting serious political attention.

The Times published three must read articles and a follow-up 10 point plan to restore justice.

  1. Family justice: the secret state that steals our children – Every year thousands of children are taken from their parents, largely on the say-so of ‘experts’. It is a secret and sometimes unjust process and the system must change
  2. Family courts: the hidden untouchables – In the second of the special articles, they explain how family courts operate in secrecy
  3. Family justice: your word against theirs – In the third of their special articles, they look at the pernicious types of allegation that are almost impossible for parents to disprove
  4. Family justice: what we can do to protect our children – A ten-point plan to make our courts system fairer

When one reads the 10 point plan, one has to marvel that one has to be campaign for these rights and provisions in a court that has the power to take away people’s children, for many a fate worse than death.

  1. Open family courts to the press in all but exceptional circumstances (as recommended by the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee).
  2. Let any parent or carer accused of abuse call any witnesses they need in their defence. At the moment, they are routinely refused permission to do so.
  3. Give automatic permission for parents who are refused legal aid to get a lay adviser to help them present their case. This is routinely refused.
  4. Remove the restrictions that prevent families from talking about their case (as recommended by the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee).
  5. Review the definition of “emotional abuse” across local authorities, to make sure that it cannot become a catch-all for overzealous officials.
  6. Provide an automatic right for parents to receive copies of case conference notes and all evidence used against them in court, just as they would in a criminal trial.
  7. Create an independent body to oversee the actions of social services, with proper sanctions. If that body is to be the General Social Care Council, make it easier for parents to go directly to that body rather than having to face delays from the local authority.
  8. Let children in care waive their right to privacy if they wish to speak out. For gagging children is surely not consistent with promoting their welfare.
  9. Restructure CAFCASS, the Family Court Advisory Service, from being an organisation that reports on the parents to the courts to one that actively promotes the parenting needs of children. The primary focus should cease to be assisting the court process. It should be diverting parents away from contested hearings into the making of parenting plans.
  10. Review the recent legal aid cut-backs that are deterring lawyers from taking on these complex family cases. It is quite wrong that desperate parents are unable to find a lawyer to help them in their time of need.

    [From Family justice: what we can do to protect our children | Camilla Cavendish – Times Online]

I hope that Ms Cavendish wins an award for this great and just campaign. If you live in the UK, you really should visit the campaign website and write you your MP.

The Eastern European Megamafia and Serbia

In June this year author & Balkanologist Misha Glenny was interviewed by B92 about his new book on organized crime “McMafia”.

The interview gives a fascinating insight into the role of organized crime in the Balkans, in particular their central role in the recent Balkan wars.

I have quoted the interview extensively here in a few sample questions:

B92: Can you define the moment when organized crime started to develop, or to proliferate in Serbia, or in the former Yugoslavia?

Glenny: I think that as a process it happened between 1988,1989 and 1991, by the time the war broke out in Croatia and the federal structures had completely collapsed. Then, all sides, particularly Serbia and particularly Croatia, very quickly Macedonia and Slovenia as well had created their paramilitary armies which were indistinguishable from the gangsters on the streets. And it’s no coincidence that all of the major criminal figures, in Serbia or in Croatia, for example, had a role to play in the war as well.

B92: In what way did their cooperation develop during the war?

Glenny: Well, here in Serbia, and in Croatia, and in Bosnia, one of the things that was going on was that the war was used as an excuse for, what one would call in Marxist terms, Primitive Capital Accumulation, i.e. in the battlefields, if the Croat unit or the Serb unit took an area, than, there would be a paramilitary team that would clear it of all its goods.

Television, fridges, whatever they could get their hands on. Sometimes, in the case of Eastern Slavonia, entire vineyards, oilfields and so on, and they would use this to start building up a criminal empire. Now what I felt when I was researching this about the 1990s, is because in the key instances there was a cooperation between gangsters and paramilitaries of all sides, i.e. Croats and Serbs cooperating together, Serbs and Albanians cooperating together in the heroin trade for example, that actually I came to review my belief about what happened in 1990s.

The real engine behind the wars was very little to do with nationalist conflict, and all to do with organized crime. Finding the way of seizing as much economic power in the various areas of the former Yugoslavia as possible, and establishing themselves as the key economic players in these countries.

B92: What was the role of the state? What was the role of the security services in Eastern Europe when it came to the development of organized crime?

Glenny: It was different in the former Yugoslavia from everywhere else. And that is because the slide to war meant that the state remained more powerful in Yugoslavia than it did, say, in neighboring Bulgaria. So, in neighboring Bulgaria, what tended to happen was that large number of security forces in 1989, 1990, were sacked from their jobs, and they were unemployed. They then used their skills of surveillance, creating criminal, or creating underground networks, killing people, smuggling – in Bulgaria, smuggling was very important – they became the new organized crime.

Here in Serbia or in Croatia, it was different because UDBA [former Yugoslav secret service] basically remained intact. It split along national lines obviously, but essentially the networks remained consistent with the state, and what they did was to develop a relationship with the paramilitaries, with the organized crime gangs, and so when you come on to something like cigarette smuggling from 1994 onwards, all of the states were getting their percentage, their cut from allowing the cigarette trade to go on through. They became mutually dependent.

B92: You say in your book that the Russians love their Slavic brothers, but that in the world of organized crime and weapons trade, one could hardly notice that.

Glenny: This is really important for me. The realization. When looking at the arms flows coming out of Ukraine and Russia, once the arms embargo was imposed on all republics of the former Yugoslavia, the amount of weaponry that went into Croatia from Ukraine and Russia is really quite astonishing. It was their primary source, the largest percentage of weapons coming into Croatia came from Russia and Ukraine and so, you know, it’s an example of how the mythology of strong political bond between, say, Moscow and Belgrade, is just that. When it comes to money, nationalism plays really insignificant role.

B92: Can you describe the role our criminals had in the development of organized crime? What was the role of the criminals from the former Yugoslavia?

Glenny: It was the very important role. And the reason why it was the important role is partly because of the specific function of the transit zone. For drugs, for women, for cigarettes, all going to the European Union, and it’s important to remember that this trade in Europe was driven by the huge demand of the EU citizens for drugs, illegal migrant labor, women, and so on… and it had a very important role there.

But, the other thing was the issue of the war, as a smoke screen for this activity, the so called fog of war), and also after the imposition of sanctions on the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, i.e. Serbia and Montenegro. Those sanctions were a disaster. Because Serbia and Montenegro were self sufficient in food, all they needed to get was oil, and all the surrounding countries were very, very weak, going through tough transitions. So over night in 1992, you’ve created the Pan-Balkan Mafia.

This was where the Bulgarians the Serbs, the Croats, the Romanians, the Hungarians, the Greeks, the Albanians, everyone became involved in supply of oil to Serbia, and then in order to finance the wars, the transit of goods and services out through the Balkans and into the EU. And that was an absolutely massive increase. Now, this all drew the attention of secret services in the European Union and the United States. They knew that there was a hell of a lot going on in the Balkans, they didn’t exactly know what to do about it, but its role in the 1990s, and in the first few years of the post millennium period, the “naughties” as we called them, was really important.

B92: You have dedicated the last chapter of your book to the future of organized crime. How is it different from what it is today?

Glenny: ….It is interesting for me to observe Bulgaria, where criminal elements are at this time more powerful than in Serbia, but Bulgaria is now an EU members. I think that organized crime and its power in Serbia are directly connected to Serbia’s links with the EU. If Serbia becomes an EU member, it will receive all sorts of incentives that are perhaps not visible now, but that are necessary, above all financial injections into the economically devastated areas. These areas are southern Serbia for example, near the borders. These are the generators of organized crime.

There’s Belgrade, too, of course, where most of the money is. If Serbia becomes an EU members, the organized crime problem will slowly diminish in the 10 to 15-year period. That has happed in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, to a lesser degree in Poland, although that’s a specific problem. I’m sure it will happen in Bulgaria too. EU membership will destroy organized crime or bring it to an acceptable level. If, however Serbia remains outside the EU, then possibilities for organized crime to consolidate and increase its influence in the country will open up. [From B92 – Insight – Off the air – “Criminals, key business players”]

Karadzic captured!

 

Superb news this morning that Radovan Karadzic has been captured by Serbian authorities and being prepared for hand-over to the Hague.

I have been holding off on a big post about Mladic and Karadzic that I started after I read the a superb article from the BBC on why Mladic and Karadzic were still free.

Karadzic’s arrest is all the more startling in the light of what that article reveals, which is that they were both under the protection of the trans-Balkan mega mafia which includes elements of the Serbian Secret Service and the then government (a kakistocracy1 if ever there was one).

Radovan Karadzic was drinking coffee at a remote restaurant on the Foca to Gacko road in southern Bosnia.

It was April 2005.

A short while later, a nervous looking Karadzic and his female companion got up suddenly and left in a red Mercedes.

Placing the interests of justice before those of his own fame and fortune, the journalist contacted the International War Crimes Tribunal.

…After that, the journalist felt it was time to write his own story, under another name.

But first he made contact with Dutch military intelligence, to find out if there had been any follow-up to his information.

“Don’t write about it, if you value your life,” he was told, to his amazement.

“Several of our agents visited the restaurant. On their return to the Netherlands, they needed protection.”

Such is the power, allegedly, of the mafia ring which protects the former Bosnian Serb leader.

…Radomir Ceranic, a senior employee of the Bosnian secret service, OSA, described the alleged murder of two CIA agents by Karadzic’s men when they got too close to him.

Their car and the tracking equipment they used was discovered.

The bodies of the CIA men, both US citizens, were never found.

Ceranic had just been fired from his job, so he may have borne a grudge. Whatever the truth, it is another hint of the power and ruthlessness of Karadzic’s network.

Ever since Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was murdered, Serbian politicians have been very aware that they are at the mercy of the regional mafias. Here is Serbia handing over Mladic and Karadzic was not considered to be political suicide for the politicians who order it, but literal suicide.

The joke in corridors of my office today is that new Minister of Police (and leader of the Socialist Party) Ivica Dacic has been set up. He fought hard to get that ministry and now he is being credited/blamed with the arrest itself. There is something poetic about this in the eyes of many because the Socialists are widely believed to be involved in murder of Djindjic. Now its expected that he is in the sights of the mafia revenge squad. Some ministries have gone so far as to deny any involvement2.

People are also wondering just what the hell he was doing on a public bus in the suburbs of Belgrade. His disguise was pretty good though (see photos above). Serbian newspapers are joking that he looks like Santa Clause or Getafix [image] from the Asterix comics.

The global consensus seems to be that this is superb news and just about everyone here that I have spoken to is delighted.

This arrest also seems to indicate that the Secret Service is under control. In “What’s Wrong With Serbia?” analyst Dejan Anastasijevic explored the massive power of the renegade elements within the Serbian Secret Service.

Reproduced below is Stratfor’s assessment of the implications of the arrest3 . Note the comments on Kostunica.

Summary

The arrest of war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic has major implications for Serbia.

Analysis

Radovan Karadzic, alleged to have committed war crimes during the Bosnian portion of the Yugoslav wars, was arrested July 21, according to the National Security Council of Serbia and the Serbian president’s office. Initial reports indicate he was arrested in Serbia, not Bosnia. Karadzic has been in hiding since the Dayton Accords, which ended the Bosnia war, were signed in 1995.

Karadzic has been able to remain at large thanks to the intelligence and security forces of Serbia, which have continually turned a blind eye his way. Many of a nationalist bent in Serbia disagree with the conventional wisdom that most of the violence in the Yugoslav wars was carried out by their co-ethnics, and many of the remainder feel that Serbs were treated unfairly. Regardless of where the blame does, should or will fall, the bottom line is that many were willing to provide Karadzic shelter despite a continental manhunt seeking to place him before a war crimes tribunal.

That all changed two weeks ago with the installation of a new government in Belgrade. Until recently, the BIA — Serbia’s internal intelligence agency — was directed by the former prime minister of the country, the mild nationalist Vojislav Kostunica. Kostunica and his party are no longer in the government. Also, the Socialist Party of Serbia — the party once run by former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic — has essentially sold itself to the highest bidder in an effort to rebill itself as a “modern, European” party. The BIA’s change of hands and the Socialists change of mind enabled Karadzic to be arrested. His transfer to the tribunal in The Hague will likely happen within days.

There are four main implications of this decision. First, it greatly discredits Kostunica and his allies in the eyes of the West. Many Western governments already disliked Kostunica’s kingmaker role, as he used it to extract endless concessions out of the European Union. Now, most will believe that Kostunica’s allies knew Karadzic’s whereabouts all along, and most will be unwilling to so much as entertain any proposals Kostunica may have.

Second, the arrest and transfer will provide the perfect launch for Serbia’s efforts to join the European Union. War crimes cooperation has long been a sticking point with many of Europe’s more moral-minded members — especially the Netherlands. Serbia now may be able to leverage that to push itself closer to Europe. Serbia used to be an economic hub, enjoying good infrastructure and an excellent location on the Danube. It now has an excellent chance to be that hub again.

Third, the Serbian leadership — specifically President Boris Tadic — has demonstrated remarkable political acumen. For the past three years, Tadic routinely has outsmarted and outmaneuvered Kostunica. But beginning just a few weeks ago, Tadic began turning the tables. Now that Kostunica is out of government, Tadic’s allies are firmly in charge. Tadic commands the most unified government Serbia has known in years, and he is breaking with
long-standing policy. Serbia’s road is far from easy, but its leader is proving to the world that he has the right mix of skill and stubbornness to chart a bold path.

Finally, Serbia is overcoming its past 20 years stuck between Europe and Russia, and is sliding toward the former. The biggest criticism of Serbia — many Europeans have long held — is that Belgrade has been unwilling to come to terms with its recent past and the role played in the Yugoslav wars. If the new government is willing to do this, it has already done the hard part. After all, coming to terms with one’s past is far easier than negotiating with Brussels’ bureaucrats.

  1. kakistocracy: Government under the control of a nation’s worst or least-qualified citizens
  2. http://blic.co.yu/infocus.php?id=2565
  3. http://www.stratfor.com/memberships/120257 – Members only section

The deadly convenience of Victor Bout

P1070183.JPG

ISN Security Watch has a great two part series on the real Lord of War, notorious international arms dealer Victor Bout.

Bout was arrested in Bangkok in March 2008 and is on remand awaiting trial.

He first came to my attention when contacts at SEESAC told me about the scale and ruthlessness of his operation.

Wikipedia has a good introduction:

Viktor Anatolyevich Bout (Russian: Виктор Анатольевич Бут) (born January 13, 1967 near Dushanbe, Tajik SSR, Soviet Union) is a Russian former GRU major and arms dealer. Bout is suspected of supplying arms to the Taliban and Al Qaeda and of supplying huge arms shipments into various civil wars in Africa with his own private air fleet. Nicknamed “the Merchant of Death”, he is the subject of a book by that name written by Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun. According to Lee S. Wolosky, he is “the most powerful player in the trafficking of illegal arms.”

Recent reports suggest he is also operating in Iraq using front companies and Cargo Airlifts (Airline Transport, Air West, Aerocom and TransAvia Export). Bout came to officials’ attention in the 1990s, when he was accused of supplying arms to rebels in West Africa after a cease-fire agreement had been brokered. At that time he owned or was using many airlines, including Air Cess and Centrafrican, which were later forced to shut down by authorities. He also supplied arms to the deposed regime of Charles Taylor in Liberia.

In May 2006, when 200,000 AK-47 assault rifles allegedly went missing in transit from Bosnia to Iraq, one of Bout’s airlines was the carrier. Bout’s business partner is Hasan Čengić, the former Deputy Prime Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to Slobodna Bosna and Douglas Farah. Bout was arrested in Bangkok, Thailand on March 6, 2008, five days after the Colombian government found the computer of FARC’s (Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia) leader alias “Raul Reyes” in a long term camp site in Ecuador . – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Bout

Bout’s arrest is actually a serious worry to many governments, not least of which the US government, with whom he has done business. You can read all about this character at ISN Security Watch – “The deadly convenience of Victor Bout” Part 1 and Part 2 .

Also see his official website: http://www.victorbout.com/