(Adds Serbian FA reaction)
By Zoran Milosavljevic
BELGRADE, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Serbian Football Association (FSS) vice-president Dragan Dzajic and two other former Red Star Belgrade officials were arrested on Tuesday for alleged fraud and abuse of power.
Police said Dzajic, a former president of Serbian champions Red Star, was detained along with the club’s former director of operations Vladimir Cvetkovic and secretary Milos Marinkovic.
“The three long-serving former Red Star officials have been arrested under suspicion that they have abused their positions and forged identification documents,” a police statement said.
“In the period between 4 July 2001 and 15 March 2002, the three Red Star officials concluded a deal stipulating the club was to get 27 million German marks from the transfer of its player Goran Drulic to (Spanish club) Real Zaragoza,” it said.
“They had forged documents to falsely show that Drulic was to receive 18 million German marks from the transfer.
“They then opened a bank account to Drulic’s name without his knowledge and transferred the Spanish club’s payment for the player in the amount of 6,127,104.24 euros ($9.08 million) to Red Star’s account.
“After doing that, they made several withdrawals by using Drulic’s fake signature they had forged to make illegal profit for themselves.”
Dzajic’s lawyer Sveta Vujacic said the 62-year-old former Yugoslavia winger had been taken to the investigative judge for questioning and called his arrest “a disgrace for Serbia”.
“After the mandatory 48-hour detention during which time Dzajic will be questioned, the judge will decide whether to release my client or instruct a month-long detention,” Vujacic told the state Tanjug news agency.
The FSS was “shocked” with Dzajic’s arrest ahead of Serbia’s friendly at Macedonia on Wednesday and the team’s coach Miroslav Djukic said they would “focus on the game “ as the best way to “help the country’s soccer at this difficult moment”.
“We will also make no attempt to hamper the investigation and we will refrain from making any further comments at this time,” FSS spokesman Aleksandar Boskovic told reporters.
Dzajic, who became Red Star’s president shortly before the club won the European Cup in 1991, was named the FSS vice president on Feb. 1.
His arrest in what the police called a “comprehensive crackdown on illegal soccer activities” came only a week after the apprehension of five other senior soccer officials.
Ratko Butorovic, the president of first division club Vojvodina Novi Sad, was arrested last Tuesday along with the club’s stadium director Milan Cabric and three referees on match-fixing charges.
In December, Red Star’s general secretary Zoran Damjanovic, two other club officials and a match delegate were detained after a riot in which the club’s fans seriously injured a police officer during a league match.
All four were released later in December pending further investigation into the incident. (Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Miles Evans)