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Serbia-Montenegro13 April 2006

Slavko Curuvija’s killers still not identified seven years after his murder

(JPEG) Reporters Without Borders today reiterated its appeal to the Serbian authorities for an end to impunity in the murder of Slavko Curuvija, the editor of the independent daily Dnevni Telegraf and founder of the magazine Evropljanin, who was gunned down on a Belgrade street seven years ago this week.

The government promised to shed light on this killing after Slobodan Milosevic’s fall in October 2000 but in April 2005, justice minister Zoran Stojkovic said no real evidence was 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.

Reporters Without Borders wrote to interior minister Dragan Jocic on 12 April 2005 asking him to revive the investigation and track down eye-witness, but it received no answer.

“We again call on the government not to leave Curuvija’s murder unpunished,” the press freedom organisation said. “The Serbian authorities probably had a hand in the elimination of this outspoken journalist. Five years after Milosevic’s departure, their role needs to be clearly established. The government must recognise the mistakes of the past and identify those responsible for this murder, which it has recognised as being politically-motivated.”

Tomo Zoric, the spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in charge of the murder investigation, said this week that progress had been made but not enough to solve the case. The victim’s brother, Jovo Curuvija, told Reporters Without Borders that “the names of the killers and the instigators are known but the intelligence agencies, in other words the state, are protecting them.”

President Boris Tadic said he was unhappy that Curuvija’s murders were still at large seven years after the killing. He also mentioned two other journalists, Milan Pantic and Dada Vujasinovic, whose murders still have not been solved.

Curuvija was shot dead by two masked men as he arrived outside 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 Milosevic regime.

A column published in the newspaper Ekspres Politika on 6 April 1999, five days before the murder, had accused Curuvija of being a traitor and supporter of the NATO military offensive. The newspaper’s former editor, Djordje Martic, acknowledged on 14 April 2001 that it was written on the orders of Milosevic’s wife, Mirjana Markovic.

In early December 2003, the prosecutor’s office in charge of the case and the organised crime bureau announced that an eye-witness of the murder had formally identified two suspects. They said the murder was clearly political and promised that all the necessary evidence would be gathered in order to bring those responsible to justice.

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