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Serbia-Montenegro12 April 2005

Six years of impunity for Slavko Curuvija’s murderers

(JPEG) On the sixth anniversary of the murder of Serb journalist Slavko Curuvija on 11 April 1999, Reporters Without Borders today deplored the failure to identify his killers and bring them to justice and it reiterated its call to the Serbian authorities to establish all the facts related to the case.

"No relevant information is yet available about Slavko Curuvija’s killers," the press freedom organization said in a letter to the interior minister. "We are dismayed by the lack of results and the failure of the Serbian authorities to carry out an investigation capable of finding out the truth about this case."

The letter continued: "Despite the repeated promises to solve this case, it is clear that the investigations are at a standstill. Curuvija’s family and his colleagues in Serbia and the rest of the world have a right to know the truth. We once again call on the authorities to do everything possible to clarify all the precise circumstances of this tragedy."

Justice minister Zoran Stojkovic yesterday said there was no real evidence available on the circumstances of Curuvija’s death, despite the creation of a special investigative unit within the police just to work on this case.

According to sources within the interior ministry, police inspector general Vladimir Bozovic requested documents about the Curuvija case in September 2004 and obtained nothing from the police then in charge of the investigation.

On 9 December 2003, a few days before legislative elections, the office of the special prosecutor and the organised crime bureau said an eye-witness had formally identified two persons suspected of the murder but their identity could not be revealed. Since then, the police have given no further information about the outcome of this identification.

The daily newspaper Politika has alleged that three policemen from the Republic of Srpska (a Bosnian Serb entity) are implicated in Curuvija’s death, while Luka Pejovic, a Montenegrin who was identified as Curuvija’s killer by a witness, was innocent. Pejovic was gunned down outside his Belgrade home on 5 December 2000.

According to Natasa Kandic of the Humanitarian Law Centre (HLC), a Serbian human rights NGO that was the first to discover that Curuvija was under close police surveillance at the time of his murder, those implicated in his death still have a close relationship with the Serbian national security agencies, and this explains why the investigation has not progressed.

Curuvija, who edited the newspapers Dnevni Telegraf and Evropljanin, was shot dead by two masked men as he arrived in front of his Belgrade home with his wife on 11 April 1999, at the time of the NATO military offensive. He had been constantly harassed for his articles criticising the regime of President Slobodan Milosevic. Some state-owned newspaper called him a "traitor."

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