Former members of the State Security were sentenced to a total of 22 years in prison for the attempted murder of Vuk Draskovic, political leader and former opponent of Serbia’s strongman Slobodan Milosevic.
Special Operation Unit of the Serbian State Security
Photo by Beta
Milos Radonjic, former chief of the Belgrade office of State Security, was sentenced to eight years, while former heads of units, Stevan Basta and Ratko Romic, got seven years each.
The presiding judge, Tatjana Sretenovic, said that during the long trial it was proven that a serious criminal offence had been committed and many witnesses corroborated the claims stated in the indictment.
According to the indictment Radonjic, Basta and Romic helped three other members of the Special Operation Unit of the Serbian State Security in an attempt to assassinate Draskovic in the Montenegrin costal town of Budva in June 2000. Draskovic was injured but survived.
During Slobodan Milosevic’s ten years rule, the State Security tried several times to kill Draskovic.
In an attack on Draskovic’s life in 1999, four members of his political party were killed. For this crime, the leader of the Special Operations Unit, Milorad Ulemek, together with two more members of the unit, were sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Ulemek, known as Legija, is also serving a 40 years jail term for his role in the assassination of Serbian president Zoran Djindjic on March 12, 2003.
“This is an important step towards stopping the ranking officials in the government eliminating their opponents by killing them. We hope this verdict will also help to resolve the cases of journalists who were killed just because the authorities did not like their writing,” said Vladimir Gajic, lawyer for Draskovic.
Draskovic stated that he is satisfied with the judgment and that he will not seek reparations from the state.
Vuk Draskovic, leader of the Serbian Renewel Movement
Photo by Beta
“Finally, 12 years after October 5 [when Milosevic was removed from power], the State Security, the principle death squad of Slobodan Milosevic, is not untouchable any more. For all those years these terrible crimes were orchestrated by Radonjic,” said Draskovic.
The Special Operation Unit of the State Security was formed in the 1990s on the order of Slobodan Milosevic.
The unit was run by Jovica Stanisic, Head of the State Security and Franko Simatovic, Head of the Special Operation Unit, who are both indicted by the ICTY for murders, persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds and inhumane acts during the conflicts in Bosnia and Croatia from 1991 until 1995.
The Special Operation Unit was active during the conflicts in former Yugoslavia, usually performing secret operations for the state and allegedly committed mass killings in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.
The unit was dissolved in 2003, when a number of members were either arrested or killed under mysterious circumstances. However, some of the members are still working for the state – either in the Special Police Unit or within the Ministries of Foreign and Internal Affairs.