Liberation of Kosovo: French connection - Soccer transfer fee `funded Arkan'

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The Independent Online
ETHNIC CLEANSING in Kosovo may have been financed unwittingly by French soccer fans. Judicial investigators in Bordeaux believe that the Serb militia leader and indicted war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic - better known as Arkan - embezzled all or part of the 12 million francs (pounds 1.2m) paid by the local club for a Yugoslav player last summer.

Arkan was chairman of the Yugoslav club FC Obilic when they sold their international midfielder Yvan Vukomanovic to Bordeaux, the French champions, before the start of last season. The French investigators believe that much of the cash never reached the club but was taken by Arkan for his personal use or that of his infamous militia, the Tigers.

Public prosecutors in Bordeaux, acting on a tip-off, are expected to interview officials of the French club, the transferred player and his agent in the next few days. They will want to know whether any officials at the French end were aware of the destination of the cash. Several former Bordeaux officials were convicted earlier this year of irregularities involving transfer payments and entertainment of referees. Another Yugoslav middle-man was involved in that case.

Arkan has now given the chairmanship of FC Obilic to his wife. His militia is suspected by the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague of having been responsible for hundreds of murders during the Croatian and Bosnian wars from 1991 to 1995. It is also believed to have been active in Kosovo in recent weeks.

Yvan Vukomanovic, a defensive midfielder, was a regular performer for Bordeaux in their championship-winning 1998-9 season.