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Serbian boss of prostitutes sentenced to 17 years of imprisonment – Zarubica exploited hundreds of women: now on the run

07.11.2008, Source: Corrieri di Bologna

Nemesis: one woman was the first to say his name, a name that brings fear in the world of prostitution. “Milivoje Zarubica. The real name of Puja is Milivoje Zarubica”, said the woman in a court of Bologna in 2004. This statements was taken very seriously, as she have had a relationship with that man. She opened a way for new investigations. A crack in the wall of silence and terror that had for years protected Puja, powerful and unscrupulous man, big name in the world of crime, exploiter and trafficker of prostitutes in half of Europe. Yesterday, four years after the revealing statement in court, Milivoje “Puja” Zarubica, 43, was sentenced seventeen years (three of which indults) and to pay 150 000 of euros fine for exploitation of women into prostitution and conspiracy to commit criminal acts. That penalty, however, he will serve if and when captured: Puja is hiding.

Why Bologna? Because the investigation which led to yesterday’s sentencing started here. It all started several years ago by a search of some apartments in the Tofane street (zone of Andrea Costa). In this houses girls from Eastern Europe were prostituting. Some thirty Romanians, Moldavians and Ukrainians. Some of them agreed to cooperate with justice and denounced their exploiters: all Serbs. It was then that emerged for the first time the name Puja. Not as exploiter, but as the head of all exploiters. One of the biggest traffickers of women in Europe. The man who, without never moving from his hometown, Belgrade, found, sold and, in some cases, organized prostitution jobs through his subordinates. In Bologna as in London. Wherever there was the possibility to do business. The first traces of this impressive illegal business date back in the early 90s, the years of war and slaughter in the Balkans. At the time, Puja transferred women to Italy in rubber boats, have found the public prosecutor Elizabeth Melotti and investigators of the Mobile Team.
This investigation led to a process where accused (and later convicted) different assistants of Puja, including some of his relatives. It was during this process that the ex girlfriend of the boss revealed his real name. From here the new investigation starts, investigation that has given many surprises. Some examples. Milivoje Zarubica also owns a large hotel and a luxury restaurant-ship in Belgrade. From the hotel he was running business of human trafficking: the girls were brought there and parading in front of buyers, that would chose and bought them. Other girls remained to work for Puja, who sent them abroad putting them in the hands of his companions. But he continued to monitor everything from the headquarters in Belgrade: witnesses said that at his desk Puja held maps of all the countries where he had women in prostitution and marked with flags cities in which he would moved the business from time to time. A guaranteed impunity for him for so long points out the corruption of some lawyers and judges in Serbia. That isi why Puja was only recently sentenced (the offence is corruption) in Serbia and he is now in run even there.
Zarubica was defended by the office of Fabrizio Petix, who announced appeal. “I have tried to demonstrate that the identification of Puja was not certain”, notes the attorney. According to him, in short, Puja and Zarubica are not the same person.

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