Đorđe Božović

Đorđe Božović
Birth name Đorđe Mićković
Nickname(s) Giška
Born (1955-09-16)16 September 1955
Peć, FPR Yugoslavia
Died 15 September 1991(1991-09-15) (aged 35)
Gospić, SFR Yugoslavia
Resting place Bezjovo, Podgorica, Montenegro
Allegiance Serbia
Years of service 1991
Rank Paramilitary leader
Unit Serbian Guard
Battles/wars

Đorđe "Giška" Božović (Serbian: Ђорђе Гишка Божовић; 16 September 1955 – 15 September 1991) was a Serbian criminal and paramilitary commander during the Yugoslav Wars.[1]

Early life

Božović was born Đorđe Mićković on 16 September 1955 in Peć to father Gavrilo "Gavro" Mićković (1888–1964)[2] from the Kuči clan and mother Milena (1927–2012) from Istok in Metohija. His father Gavro was involved with underworld activity and after killing a German man in Cologne, the family decided to change their surname to Božović after Gavro's father, Božo. Together with his mother and younger sister, Slavica, young Đorđe lived in Inđija until 1964. That is when his father got murdered and the family moved to Belgrade, settling in the Voždovac neighbourhood. His arrival at age 8 at Voždovac shaped the rest of Đorđe's life.

Growing up in a neighbourhood full of poor working-class families like his own, he often found himself a target of taunting and bullying by older children. He fought back, earning respect and street credibility. He became lifelong friends with Branislav "Beli" Matić who got him into boxing at Radnički boxing club. Proficient at street fighting, preteen Đorđe already had run-ins with the police. Growing up, his nickname was Debeli (Fatso) due to his chubby frame. He got his famous nickname Giška apparently due to resemblance to a bear of the same name at the Belgrade Zoo. At age thirteen, he illegally crossed the border into Italy just to show that he can. Upon coming back he befriended Boris Petkov "The Bulgarian" and Ranko Rubežić and together with Beli, the foursome formed a basis for the mafia clan originating in the neighbourhood.

Criminal career

Giška had close ties to the Serbian mafia (he was friends with Ljubomir Magaš, whose respect he earned when he crossed illegally to Italy for the second time when he was 17 years old, in order to match Magaš in a fist fight) and Montenegrin mafia in his youth where he reached the rank of Boss. Giška's relationship with other prominent members of the Belgrade underworld was marked by alternating periods of close friendship and vicious feuding, often with deadly consequences.

In the late 1980s, together with gangster Željko "Arkan" Ražnatović and painter Dragan "Tapi" Malešević, Giška ran a nightclub called Amadeus located in the Belgrade neighbourhood of Tašmajdan. According to security operative Boža Spasić, they were allowed to open the club with the blessing of Yugoslav State Security (UDBA) as a reward of sorts for Giška's and Arkan's service to UDBA over the years. However, after discovering that in addition to regular activities the club was also being used for drug running, UDBA shut it down.[3]

State Security Assasin

Božović, as well as the rest of the Yugoslav underworld, was frequently contracted by the SDB for the elimination of the political dissidents and state enemies. Giška was among the best agents service had, along with Arkan, because of his skills, knowledge of foreign languages and wits. He was often marked as the Mastermind behind the Đureković operation, although these rumors were never confirmed. One of his famous actions involves planting a remotely controlled exploding phone at the door of the certain Albanian emigree in Switzerland as the warning sign. Božović apparently had a change of heart in 1986, when he was sent to Australia to assassinate Momčilo Đujić, a controversial WWII military leader and an influential figure in the Serbian emigration. Božović was impressed by the speech Đujić gave in Sydney and aborted the mission acting on his own hand. Yugoslav secret service never officially admitted tasking him with the mentioned assassination, but later severed all contacts with him. From then on, Božović became public enemy, and quickly enrolled into opposition politics.[4]

Return to Belgrade and politics

Božović returned to Belgrade in late 80's and quickly positioned himself as the leader of the Voždovac gang in his childhood neighbourhood. Among the rising stars of Belgrade's underworld, such as Aleksandar Knežević "Knele" and Goran Marjanović "Bombaš", Giška was perceived as a legend. Giška often acted as a negotiator, settling feuds between his own and other gangs. He held passionate speeches at gangsters' funerals, warning them that a bloody war in Yugoslavia is coming and that they have to stick together. He became highly involved in politics, admiring the then informal leader of the opposition Vuk Drašković. Božović, with his gang, actively participated in the 1991 riots in Belgrade. He is widely remembered for preventing the crowd to enter People's Republic Assembly saying He will not allow for the loss of any Serb life. During this period he also became a bodyguards for Drašković. He and Matić "Beli" started financing Drašković's SPO and became pivotal in consolidating its voters.

Serbian Guard

On 4 June 1991, Božović formed the Serbian Guard paramilitary force along with Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) leader Vuk Drašković, Vuk's wife Danica Drašković, and Beli Matić.[5]

The Guard faced many difficulties while being organised. State Security obstructed it from the very beginning, preventing its financing and pressuring its members to join the rival state-controlled Tigers. The Tigers were led by Arkan, with whom Giška parted in the mid '80s. Mutual friend, Serbian rock star Bora Čorba, in an interview in 2013 stated that he tried to consolidate the two, claiming Arkan was willing to do so, while Giška refused. The reason being that, apparently, Arkan abandoned Giška during the heist they were pulling together in Sweden when the police showed up.[6]

The paramilitary unit's training camp was located near Bor Lake in SR Serbia, SFR Yugoslavia.[5] It participated in clashes in the strategic Krajina area of SR Croatia near then-heavily Serb town of Gospić.[7]

Elements of the unit also participated in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.[8] Božović was the unit's first commander, but was killed in action near Gospić.[9] Some have alleged that Božović's death was orchestrated either by the Republika Srpska or Republika Srpska Krajina government.[10] The unit's chief financier Branislav Matić was gunned down in August 1991 in Belgrade.[11]

Personal life

Božović had one daughter. He also had a sister named Slavica.[2] In October 2017, his remains were exhumed from the Central Cemetery in Voždovac and re-buried in a family plot in the Martinika Cemetery in Bezjovo, Podgorica Municipality, Montenegro.[2]

References

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