Gambling baron trial begins in Gothenburg

A huge police presence was on hand as the trial of gambling baron Rade Kotur got underway in Gothenburg on Monday.

Gambling baron trial begins in Gothenburg

The 55-year-old Kotur, referred to in the Swedish press as “Spelkungen” (The Gambling King), is charged with instigating murder and attempted murder in what is set to be one Sweden’s most watched gangster trials.

Following the prosecution’s morning presentation, Kotur’s lawyer, Anders Munck, emphasized that his client continued to deny the allegations.

He asserted it was hard to find any motive as to why Kotur would have committed the crimes.

Kotur was arrested in Britain in November of last year, following a massive raid on his suspected illegal gambling operations in which 400 slot machines were confiscated from 150 different locations throughout the country.

He is on trial for his suspected involvement in the killing of Ratko Djokic, who was gunned down by two men in dark clothing outside a boxing club in the south Stockholm suburb of Skärholmen in May 2003.

Djokic, known as The Godfather, operated a rival gambling operation at the time. His daughter was also married to 39-year-old Milan Sevo, who police consider to be the king of the Serbian underworld in Sweden.

Sevo fled to Serbia in 2004 and authorities have been unsuccessful in their attempts to locate him for their case against Kotur.

A 35-year-old hit man, Nenad Misovic, was sentenced to life in prison for Djokic’s murder.

He too is set to be tried in Gothenburg District Court for having attempted to murder another man in September 2002 on orders from Kotur.

Misovic is one of the prosecution’s key witnesses in its case against Kotur.

The victim of the murder attempt, now 44-years-old, managed to escape from the attack, which took place in the Stockholm suburb of Fisksätra, and is also scheduled to testify.

According to Dagens Nyheter, police theorize that Kotur ordered the killing because the 44-year-old had wanted to start his own gaming operation and Kotur saw the move as a threat to his own gaming empire.

The 44-year-old failed to appear in court Monday morning as the prosecution presented its case because, according to the prosecutor, he wants to avoid the limelight.

Earlier, prosecutor Krister Petersson explained for the Expressen newspaper that he faces several challenges in convincing many key witnesses to testify in the case.

“People who are deeply entrenched in the gangster world refuse to testify,” he told Expressen.

“Witnesses who come forward change or withdraw their testimony.”

Originally from the former Yugoslavia, Kotur came to Sweden in the 1970s.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Kotur built up the RK Company, which operated automated poker and slot machines in pizzerias and convenience stores throughout Sweden.

According to an investigation by the Göteborgs-Posten newspaper in 2005, RK Company controlled several thousand gaming machines which made up a large part of Sweden’s estimated 5 billion kronor ($820 million) illegal gaming market.

Later in August, Kotur is expected to be charged with several serious financial crimes for his alleged attempts to shield hundreds of millions of kronor generated from the gaming operations from Sweden’s tax authorities.

His trial for instigated and attempted murders is expected to last until October.