Slobodanka’s beauty had made her famous. And it had helped her meet many rich and powerful men. One of those rich and powerful men was Djordje Zdrale…a man who topped the list of Bosnia’s most wanted…
Her favourite film was Slumdog Millionaire. Her favourite pastime was dancing.
And the main things she looked for in a man were reliability and honesty.
Or so Bosnian model Slobodanka Tosic said when she appeared in the Serbian version of Playboy magazine.
But, perhaps, the men who bought the magazine were more interested in looking at her pictures than reading about her pastimes.
In those pictures she was sprawled on a beach, waves splashing around her, golden-brown legs, tousled blonde hair…
Slobodanka Tosic was more goddess than woman.
She knew the power of her beauty, and what buttons to push.
‘I always wanted to make love under a full moon,’ she said in the interview for her Playboy spread. ‘It seems very mysterious and exciting.’
With that, she won the hearts of every man who’d bought the magazine.
One in particular – gangland leader and mobster, Djordje Zdrale.
It was 2005.
That April, Slobodanka had won the Miss Bosnia beauty competition. And after that, her life had been something of a whirlwind.
Photo shoots, interviews, an appearance on the Serbian version of the reality TV show Celebrity Survivor.
Then, she’d appeared in Playboy.
She was ‘girl of the month’, the cover girl.
And along came Zdrale.
All his life, Zdrale had been mixed up with Bosnia’s organised crime gangs.
Making his fortune during Bosnia’s civil war in the early 1990s, he’d traded arms, performed hits on rival gang members – for a price.
He was a man who had made many enemies.
But that didn’t put Slobodanka off.
He was a bad-boy, but Zdrale loved Slobodanka, worshipped her, would do anything for her.
So, when Slobodanka had a favour to ask him soon after they’d started dating, he agreed without hesitation.
Slobodanka had asked Zdrale for a lift one evening.
Because she wasn’t just a pretty face. In fact, she’d just started a college course.
But she’d left her books at a friend’s house by mistake.
She asked Zdrale if he would drive her round to get them.
The pair set off and, before long, they arrived at the house.
It seemed an unlikely kind of house for Slobodanka to have left her coursework books.
The isolated farmhouse was in the even more isolated village of Pavlovac, not far from the border with Croatia.
There were no lights showing anywhere in the house. It was dark and quiet, and no-one was to be seen.
‘This way,’ Slobodanka said to Zdrale, beckoning him.
Suddenly, a shot rang out.
Djordje Zdrale was hit squarely in the chest.
Then, out of the shadows of the house stepped a man.
It was he who had fired the bullets into Zdrale.
The man’s name was Darko Elez – and he was the man who Slobodanka really loved.
Together, Elez and Slobodanka had plotted to lure the foolish, lovestruck Zdrale to his death.
Because the two men were mortal enemies.
Elez was head of a rival gang, the biggest organized crime group in the country.
He and his mobsters had been involved in vehicle hijacking worth at least £2 million, they’d robbed the capital city’s main post office of more than £225,000 too, and had raided cash machines.
But Zdrale and his gang were in Elez’s way.
That’s where Slobodanka came in.
The plan was for her to seduce Zdrale, and win his trust. Then, she’d betray him.
She’d lure him to a quiet spot with a made-up story about college books. Elez would be waiting, his gun loaded.
The plan worked – and now Elez had assassinated his rival.
It had been a success – except for one thing.
Djordje Zdrale wasn’t dead.
He was wounded but, somehow, he’d survived.
The police had also been keen to find Zdrale in connection with his crimes. Luckily for him, they’d been tracking his movements.
They discovered the injured Zdrale and he was arrested.
He’d face charges of murder and robbery and, eventually, he would go on to receive lengthy prison sentences for them.
But, from his prison cell, he was determined to have his revenge on his one-time love, Slobodanka Tosic and his enemy Darko Elez.
He told the police what had happened, and agreed to give evidence.
Darko Elez had slipped through the police’s fingers for years.
Now, with Zdrale’s testimony, they had enough to jail him for once and for all.
Elez was arrested, convicted and given lengthy sentences for his part in several murders, attempted murders and robberies.
Tosic was arrested, too, for her part in the betrayal and for conspiring to have a man murdered.
The court heard how Slobodanka had been involved in Elez’s organized crime gang for years. Even before being crowned Miss Bosnia.
Tosic hadn’t just betrayed Zdrale. She’d betrayed her country.
And, behind her beautiful smile was a deadly gangster.
Slobodanka Tosic was convicted of being an accomplice in attempted murder. The judge sentenced her to two and a half years in prison.
She launched an appeal. It was the start of a lengthy legal process that went on until January 2016.
But finally, the courts upheld the sentence and Slobodanka started serving her time.
She didn’t pull the trigger or fire the gun.
But Slobodanka Tosic had used a far more powerful weapon.
Organised crime in Bosnia
During Bosnia’s civil war from 1992 to 1995, organized crime became a big problem for the country’s law-enforcement agencies. A number of high-ranking police officers and military generals were also involved, making money from illegal trade in drugs and weapons, and related crimes.