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Kosovo dispatch: Statement by an extradited businessman in land dispute with Kosovars could lead to arrest of former President of Montenegro – JURIST

Ernesa Shala is JURIST's correspondent in Kosovo and recently completed her law studies at the University of Pristina. She reports from Pristina.

Montenegrin businessman Dushko Knezhević was extradited from the UK to Montenegro at the end of May and has been in custody since then. The Montenegrin Special Prosecutor's Office brought eight charges against him, including the formation of a criminal organisation and money laundering. His company Rekreaturs, in which he holds 99 percent of the shares, was also involved in a legal dispute with the Kosovo Privatisation Agency over 33,000 square metres of land on Kamenova beach in Budva.

Since 2019, the Special Prosecutor's Office has accused Knezhević of damaging the state budget by hundreds of millions through criminal organizations. He is accused of abuse of office, founding a criminal organization and money laundering. Knezhević fled to London in 2019, evading the judicial authorities. Montenegro issued an Interpol arrest warrant against him in the same year.

Now reports have emerged that his testimony could lead to the arrest of former Montenegrin President and Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. Croatian media outlet Jutarnji List, citing sources in Podgorica, has suggested that Djukanovic's arrest is imminent. Montenegrin media said Knezhević had agreed to cooperate as a “repentant, protected witness.”

Knezhević's legal troubles extend beyond Montenegro. The Kosovo Privatization Agency (KPA) sued Rekreaturs, claiming the company stole 33,000 square meters of land on Kamenova beach. The KPA pursued the case in both Montenegrin courts and the International Court of Justice in Strasbourg, claiming that Rekreaturs illegally moved its headquarters from Pristina to Budva and unlawfully acquired the land after the 1999 Kosovo War.

The disputed land has been a holiday resort for Kosovars since 1957. After the Kosovo War in 1999, Kosovars moved into the dilapidated resort, leading to legal disputes over ownership. The KPA claimed the land was illegally expropriated, but Rekreaturs employees moved the company's headquarters to Budva and registered the land in their name.

Fifteen years ago, the Kotor Court issued an injunction prohibiting the sale and ownership of the land. Despite this, three and a half years ago, the Atlas Group announced plans to build a luxury holiday resort on the site and intended to invest 88 million euros in the project. However, the project was never started.

The opinions expressed in JURIST Dispatches are solely those of our field correspondents and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST editors, staff, donors, or the University of Pittsburgh.