News 12 Mar 14

Serbs Pay Tribute to Assassinated PM Djindjic

Belgraders have laid wreaths and flowers and held processions through the capital in memory of Zoran Djindjic, the Prime Minister who was shot dead 11 years ago.

Luka and Ruzica Djindjic. Photo: Beta

Family members, friends and political followers of Zoran Djindjic visited the former Prime Minister's grave in the Alley of the Greats in Belgrade's New Cemetery on Wednesday, marking the 11th anniversary of his untimely death.

A party delegation led by the president of Djindjic's Democratic Party, Dragan Djilas, and by his widow, Ruzica, laid wreaths at his grave.

The Liberal Democratic Party organized a pilgrimage of around a thousand members and supporters to Djindjic's grave, carrying roses, candles and posters.

The Democrats did not join the Liberals, as they did last year, when a river of thousands of people flowed to the New Cemetery. Instead they held their own march through the centre of the capital in the evening, with several thousand people carrying placards with slogans like the Democrats' message in the curent parliamentary election campaign, "Democracy is at its old address", and blowing whistles as they passed by the parliament building.

A government delegation led by Socialist Prime Minister Ivica Dacic also commemorated Djindjic's death, laying a wreath at the site where he was shot in the heart by a sniper, in front of the government building, on March 12, 2003.

Djindjic was among the founders of the centrist and pro-Western Democratic Party, which spearheaded a revolt against the authoritarian regime of Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000. He became Prime Minister in 2001.

In June 2001, he played a pivotal role in the arrest and extradition of Milosevic to The Hague to face war-crimes charges.

As Prime Minister, Djindjic was frequently attacked by Serbian nationalists, including his former ally, the then President of Yugoslavia, Vojislav Kostunica.

After he was killed, Milorad Ulemek "Legija", the former commander of the Special Operations Unit, JSO, was found guilty of organizing the group that conspired to kill him.

The Liberal Democratic Party's 'March for Zoran'. Photo: Beta

Zvezdan Jovanovic, in active service in the unit at the time of the assassination, was found guilty of firing the shots that killed the Prime Minister. Both men are currently serving 40-year prison sentences.

Members of the unit were found to have conspired to commit the murder with the help of the Zemun Clan, an organized crime gang.

The wider political background to the killing remains unclear, however.

Clarifying the political background that led to the assassination has become one of the key preconditions that Serbia has to fulfill in order to continue on the road to membership of the European Union.

Supporters and leaders of Democratic party marche across the "media route" in honor of Zoran Djindjic: | Photo Nemanja Cabric

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