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  From the July 2001 issue of World Press Review (VOL.48, No.7)

East-Bloc Connections Fuel War

Oszkar Fuzes, Népszabadság (left of center) Budapest, Hungary.
April 21, 2001

Macedonian children, mafia, and illegal arms
Children in Macedonia collect shells from spent ammunition. (Photo: Impact Visuals)
In violation of the [United Nations] arms embargo and with the assistance of a Belgian of Hungarian extraction, the Odessa mafia shipped 13,000 tons of guns to Croatia and Bosnia seven years ago. The main actors in this story are expected to face trial in Brussels and Rome.

The Belgian newspaper Le Soir disclosed the workings of this arms-trafficking network, one component of which, according to the newspaper, was Technika, the Hungarian foreign trade company, “which negotiated between East and West with the blessing of Budapest.”

Brussels-born Geza Mezosy, 37, contacted Technika Foreign Trade Ltd., taking advantage of his native Hungarian language and his Serbian relatives. As a founder of the Belgian arms-trading company Eastronicom, he sought to collaborate with the Hungarian company, which had a similar field of operation. Later, he founded Laser, a Hungarian company. After his company in Belgium was shut down, he relocated to Luxembourg and continued his illicit gun trade with the help of the Bulgarian firm Kintex.

Because of the embargo on arms trading, he was forced out of nearly every country in which he had conducted business. Finally, he moved his headquarters to South Africa. He was arrested in Pretoria in 1998 and was extradited to Belgium, where he was sentenced to three years in prison. He was released from prison a year ago and would have forgotten about his past if Aleksandr Zukov had not been arrested in Italy two weeks ago.

Zukov, a Russian-Ukrainian entrepreneur, at one time lent large sums to former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and was very close to his successor. He obtained opportunities in Brussels by bribing a member of the Belgian parliament. He then founded Stellar, a “consulting” company, which served as a cover for the so-called Odessa oil mafia, led by Nikolai Fomichev and hit man Aleksandr “Angel” Angert, both Ukrainians, and Regina Lipstein, an Israeli citizen.

Eventually, the mafia ceased all dealings in oil. It has been established, however, that the organization traded a total of 13,000 tons of ammunition and guns, including 30,000 Kalashnikovs, 400 remote-controlled ground missiles, 50 launching stands, and 10,000 antitank missiles.

A company known as Global Technologies produced fake certificates regarding the origin of the weapons, as well as documentation for “shadow” customers, such as Moroccans, instead of the true Croatian and Bosnian purchasers. In this way, they misled a number of innocent trading partners and the overseers of the embargo imposed by the United Nations in 1991.

In reality, the weapons reached Croatia from Ukrainian and Belarusan factory warehouses, transferred through fake companies via Panama, Kiev, Nigeria, Israel, Italy, and other countries. Just before the weapons reached their destination, the Hungarian company Technika joined the venture, Le Soir alleges.

According to the newspaper, the company, “negotiating between East and West with the blessing of Budapest,” and Mezosy dealt directly with Bosnian and Croatian customers, laundering the money with the help of a Sudanese firm. The shipping documents for the weapons were forged by Mezosy and the weapons themselves were delivered to customers by the Adria Express, a Croatian vessel based at Otranto and Port Said. Most of the money made went to Zukov’s company, Sintez, which then redistributed it.

The investigation begun in 1993 has come to an end. It shed light on the operations of one of the world’s most successful international crime organizations and has led to the arrest of a dozen of its real leaders. It is very likely that Mezosy played a key role in the investigation’s success, providing useful information in his confession. He faces trial in Brussels, but he will be prosecuted separately and will not be handed over to Italy to testify in the trial of Zukov and other members of the Odessa mafia.

The Brussels newspaper La Libre Belgique adds to the portrait of Mezosy: The vagabond was an important arms dealer for the Czech and Hungarian Mafiosi; he played a less significant role in the Italian Mafia while having a prominent role in the African illegal gun-running scene. Allegedly, his name also appears in the files on the 1981 assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II. It might even be that the gun used by Ali Agca to shoot the pope came from Mezosy.

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