Serbia sentences four over killing of prominent journalist

Slavko Curuvija was a strong critic of former leader Slobodan Milosevic

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Slavko Curuvija, a fierce critic of Serbia’s war time ruler, Slobodan Milosevic.

Four people have now been sentenced to up to 30 years in prison each by a Serbian court on Friday over the killing in 1999 of opposition journalist and newspaper publisher Slavko Curuvija, during the rule of Slobodan Milosevic.

Under Milosevic who died in jail awaiting trial at the Hague for genocide and ethnic cleansing, violent and often deadly raids on radio stations and newspapers were common place with those who opposed him quickly disappearing.

Mr Curuvija was gunned down on the Coptic festival of Uskras, days after a pro-Milosevic newspaper published an opinion piece saying he (Curuvija) supported NATO air strikes (which killed thousands of civilians) against Serbia over its military crackdown on independence-seeking Albanian immigrants in its province of Kosovo.

“The accused are guilty of the intentional killing of Slavko Curuvija, following instructions from an unidentified person,” Judge Snezana Jovanovic said.

Radomir Markovic, the former head of Milosevic’s feared Department of State Security, was sentenced to 30 years in jail for inciting murder.

Milan Radonjic, the-then chief of State Security’s Belgrade department was also sentenced to 30 years, while operatives Ratko Romic and Milan Kurak, who is at large and sentenced in absentia, were given 20 years each for an aggravated murder.

“(Curuvija) was murdered because of … criticising authorities and potential influence on public and actions of opposition forces  at difficult time,” the indictment said.

All of the accused have the right to appeal. Lawyers for Markovic, Romic and Radonjic were not available for comment. The defendants have denied any wrongdoing.

It has taken 20 years for a trial to be brought with an unimaginable number of cases for murdered journalists laying on file as cold cases in a country still struggling to move on from one of the worst genocides in modern history.

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About the Author

Michael Al-Said
News correspondent for Al-Sahawat Times since 2012