Star prosecutor Kosto Barjaktarovic must have felt his stomach drop when he heard the verdict.
Gangster Bindy Johal and five of his associates were all acquitted of the murders in British Columbia’s underworld of brothers Jim and Ron Dosanjh.
Barjaktarovic had been a star-studded witness against the five alleged gangsters, and now they were all free.
There was more at stake in the trial than rigorous evidence.
A bonus for the accused was that jurors Gillian Guess had lain in bed with one of the accused and refused to cast a guilty vote.
Guess was eventually convicted of obstruction of justice, but it was cold consolation for Barjaktarovic.
Even a serious gangster, he had not witnessed a sense of civic duty, he took the witness stand for immunity from prosecution, money and relocation. He was not innocent and admitted to having played a role in two gang killings while working with Johal.
When he slipped into witness protection, Barjaktarovic changed his name to Alexander Kucovic and moved to Ontario.
Johal was shot dead in December 1998, three years after he was released on a charge of murder by the Dosanjh brothers.
Even with Johal’s death, Barjaktarovic still had plenty of deadly enemies.
He also had lots of bad habits and little desire to reform.
He was briefly trying out life in an RCMP witness protection program when he played hockey for a team affiliated with the force.
He first settled in London, Ont., Where he claimed to be a bouncer and solar worker.
It did not go well.
He was arrested in March 1996 with cocaine, a prohibited firearm and a limited pistol and sentenced to two and a half years in prison.
When he was first free, he moved to the York region, where he somehow had enough money to settle on the upscale Grandvista Crescent in Vaughan, near Rutherford Road and Pine Valley Drive.
He now called himself jewels and sailed around Toronto’s entertainment district
Buff and tattooed, he resembled a character from the reality show “Jersey Shore,” which he listed among his favorites on Facebook.
He felt comfortable enough to travel back to visit family in the Vancouver area.
During one of these trips west he was convicted of violence with violence and sentenced to a suspended sentence of nine months.
Back in the York region, police were called to his home in connection with domestic complaints in June 2011.
Weeks later, around 10.30pm on Saturday 2 July 2011, his lifeless body was found in the middle of the Grandvista Crescent.
He had been shot several times.
Investigators in York Regional Police killings reached out to Bolton resident Michael Costa. Legal documents described him as a “person of interest” but not a suspect in the murder investigation.
On July 7, Costa met with York investigators and denied any knowledge of Kucovic’s murder.
Costa told them he was having an affair with the deceased’s wife and said he was concerned he could have been the real target of Kucovic’s killer or killers.
Costa also said he did not want to cooperate with police because he lacked confidence in their ability to protect him, as he had previously been the victim of an unsolved knife attack.
When the interview was over, he was not detained or ordered to stay in the city.
Costa’s attitude toward the police was complicated by the fact that his older brother, Daniel, was a constable in the Toronto Police Service.
That night, Daniel Costa drove his brother to Pearson International Airport to fly at. 20.00 to Italy.
At 9:37 the same evening, according to court documents, const. Costa sat down with York homicide investigators when his brother flew to Rome.
In a recorded interview, he denied six times any knowledge of his brother’s whereabouts or activities, even though he had paid for his brother’s single ticket.
When the Toronto Police Service Professional Standards Unit revised Const. Costa’s computer activity, they found out, he had made an unauthorized search of his brother’s name on January 5, 2011 on police computers.
Michael eventually returned to the York region, and his enemies quickly noticed: On November 12, 2020, he was shot at least twice in the parking lot of a Steeles Avenue West café.
Two months later, two gunmen attacked his Bolton home.
Michael survived again, but his father, Giovanni, 65, was shot dead.
Meanwhile, Michael’s big brother was fighting to keep his job as a police officer in Toronto.
Daniel Costa was disciplined for using a police computer database without permission and for lying to York Regional Police homicide investigators about his brother’s location.
He pleaded guilty to fraud and insubordination, but was not found guilty of perjury.
He kept his job as a police officer in Toronto with a sentence of suspension, demotion and deduction of salary.
Michael Costa had his own problems. In April 2015, he was charged with 14 others – including former Olympic snowboarder Ryan Wedding – after a two-year RCMP undercover operation called “Operation Harrington,” which investigated connections between Canadian and Colombian and Mexican drug cartels.
These charges against Michael Costa were later dropped.
Back in BC, Kucovic was still remembered as “Kosto Barjaktarovic”, his name when he witnessed the 1995 Johal murder case.
Kucovic’s family in Burnaby, BC, had mourned him and published a newspaper which read: “He was the best father and the best son, very (caring) for his family, friends and good neighbors. He can always be trusted. He has an extremely loving heart for his family in Canada and at home in Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia. ”
In GTA, he was mourned as “Alex Kucovic.” Several friends posted tributes on Facebook immediately after his murder.
“RIP BROTHER … YOU WILL BE MISSED BRIDGE,” a friend wrote less than three hours after he was shot.
The next morning another friend posted this message:
“I knew a man who once said, ‘death smiles at all of us; all a man can do is smile back.’ RIP BRO … you will be missed. ”
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