News 10 Nov 15

Serbian Journalist ‘Shot After Surveillance Officers Stood Down’

A former Serbian state security officer told the Slavko Curuvija murder trial that the prominent journalists was killed minutes after a security team was told to stop following him.

Ivana Nikolic
BIRN
Belgrade
Slavko Curuvija.

Stevan Nikcevic, the former deputy chief of the Belgrade Security Service, told the Belgrade-based special court on Tuesday that defendant Milan Radonjic was in charge of the surveillance operation on April 11, 1999 - the day Curuvija was shot.

“I heard from the duty chief that Curuvija was killed. I also found out that Radonjic cancelled all the [surveillance] measures before the murder,” Nikcevic said.

Nikcevic explained that Radonjic issued a secret order on April 9 to carry out surveillance on Curuvija, but it was cancelled minutes before the journalist was murdered.

“He [Radonjic] cancelled the measures and then the object [Curuvija] was killed,” Nikcevic said.

Curuvija, a vociferous opponent of Slobodan Milosevic’s regime, was shot in the back 17 times in front of the building where he lived in Belgrade - a murder that his family and former colleagues believe was motivated by his opposition stance.

According to the indictment, an ‘unknown person’ ordered the killing and Radomir Markovic, the former head of Serbian state security, abetted the crime, while three former security service officers – Ratko Romic, Milan Radonjic and Miroslav Kurak - took part in the organisation and execution of the murder.

Kurak was the direct perpetrator, while Romic was his accomplice – he hit Curuvija’s common-law wife Branka Prpa with a pistol butt during the attack, the prosecutor alleges.

The three men have all pleaded not guilty, while Kurak is on the run and will be tried in absentia.

Markovic is currently serving a 40-year sentence for the murder of former Serbian President Ivan Stambolic and other crimes, while Romic and Radonjic were acquitted in September of the attempted murder of opposition party leader Vuk Draskovic in 2000.

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.

The trial continues on December 7.

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