Serbia Arrests Security Officers Over Journalist’s Murder

Serbia Arrests Security Officers Over Journalist’s Murder
Event date: 
Wed, 2014-01-15 15:30
Two former members of the country’s security services have been detained for the 1999 killing of Serbian publisher and journalist Slavko Curuvija, an opponent of Slobodan Milosevic. 
Ex-security officers Ratko Romic and Milan Radonjic were arrested in Belgrade on Tuesday 14th of January on suspicion of killing prominent Serbian publisher and journalist Slavko Curuvija – one of the most notorious crimes of the late Milosevic era. The two arrested men are suspected of involvement in the murder alongside the Milosevic-era head of state security, Radomir Markovic, according to Serbia’s special prosecutor for organised crime.
The prosecutor told a press conference on Tuesday that the arrests were made on the basis of statements from Milorad Ulemek, alias Legija, the jailed former leader of Serbia’s Special Operations Unit, who is currently in jail for his role in the assassination of post-Milosevic president Zoran Djindjic. “I would like to mention that his [Legija’s] testimony was unconditional... There is no benefit for him, and he spoke quite extensively about the case,” prosecutor Miljko Radisavljevic said.
Curuvija was shot in the back 17 times, in front of the building in which he lived, on April 11, 1999. His friends, colleagues and family believe the murder was motivated by his opposition to Milosevic’s regime. Daily newspaper Blic has reported that four names are on the indictment. Besides Radonjic and Romic, it includes Markovic, the former head of the security services, and Miroslav Kurak, who was also a security services officer.
On Wednesday 15th of January, the Serbian Prosecutor's Office for Organised Crime launched an investigation and proposed a 30-day detention for Romic and Radonjic.
The OSCE welcomed the arrests.
“As we approach the 15th anniversary of Curuvija’s murder I am relieved that the investigation has identified a number of suspects including possible masterminds of this gruesome act,” said Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE’s media freedom representative. “Today’s arrests show that progress is only possible when there is clear political will and commitment by the authorities,” Mijatovic added.
On Monday, 13th of January, Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic announced that the investigation had come to an end and that charges against the suspects would be filed soon. “For me personally and for [Deputy Prime Minister] Aleksandar Vucic and for all of us who have been in government before 2000, it is very important to show that everyone who has committed a criminal offence is prosecuted regardless of political affiliation,” Dacic said.
Dacic and Vucic were members of the Milosevic government when Curuvija was killed. But Vesna Pesic, a prominent Serbian politician, has expressed fears that those who ordered the murder will remained untouched. Security services chief Markovic, she said, “was directly tied to Mira Markovic [the wife of Slobodan Milosevic] and fulfilled all of her commands”. A few days before the journalist was shot dead, he was accused by Markovic of supporting NATO’s bombing of Serbia.
Curuvija was originally a reporter with many prominent magazines and daily newspapers in Serbia and the former Yugoslavia. In 1994, after the regime’s unofficial takeover of the newspaper Borba, he and many other staffers decided to quit. In 1996, he founded Dnevni Telegraf, Serbia’s first privately-owned daily in more than 50 years. Curuvija was its director, editor-in-chief and sole owner. In 1998, he also started a bi-weekly magazine, Evropljanin.