YU soldiers in illegal immigrant plot

BELGRADE, Aug 22, 2000 -- (Reuters) The Yugoslav army is investigating whether two of its soldiers were involved in a plot to smuggle a group of Chinese illegal immigrants into Italy, Belgrade media said on Monday.

Police in neighboring Montenegro arrested the two Yugoslav soldiers - Corporal Zeljko Modosan and Captain Aleksandar Todorovic - along with 25 Chinese people and another man in a van on Saturday, the Blic daily reported.

"The Montenegrin police on Saturday night at the Stanisici (police) checkpoint near Budva discovered in a Yugoslav army van...a group of 25 Chinese citizens and a certain Dragoljub Vlaovic, from Podgorica, who were being transported for the purpose of an illegal transfer to Italy," the newspaper said.

Vlaovic was the organizer of the illegal transport scheme, it said.

The report said the two Yugoslav soldiers were suspected of having forged travel documents and putting military license plates on the van transporting the migrants.

"The Chinese were very exhausted by the trip and had to be given immediate medical assistance," the newspaper said, adding that the group had paid DEM 500 each.

"Modosan and Todorovic have admitted that they transported the Chinese group from Podgorica with the intention to bring them to the coast, where a speedboat was supposed to wait to transfer them to Italy," the report said.

The Yugoslav army said it would undertake its own investigation following the one conducted by police in Montenegro, Serbia's smaller sister republic in the Yugoslav federation.

Army units in Montenegro controlled by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and police loyal to pro-Western Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic have over the past few weeks been involved in a number of smuggling incidents.

Original article