Serbia14 June 2006
Interior ministry orders internal police inquiry into conduct of Curuvija and Pantic cases
Director General of the national police, Vladimir Bozovic, announced the opening of an internal police investigation into the conclusions reached by police in the cases of the murders of journalists Slavko Curuvija and Milan Pantic, killed respectively in 1999 and 2001. On 12 June, Reporters Without Borders had urged the interior minister to reopen the investigation into the death of Milan Pantic.
The investigation was opened at the request of the interior ministry to ensure that light was shed on both murders, Bozovic said on 13 June 2006.
Interior minister urged to reopen investigation into murder of Milan Pantic
Reporters Without Borders has called on interior minister Dragan Jocic to retake control of the investigation into the murder five years ago of journalist Milan Pantic and to combat the impunity which has allowed his killers to remain at large.
Pantic, correspondent in Jagodina, central Serbia for the Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti was found dead from head injuries in front of his home on 11 June 2001. The local police chief recently admitted that the murder investigation had stalled.
“We urge the Serbian interior minister to get a firm grip on the investigation into the murder of Milan Pantic, the first Serbian journalist to be murdered after the fall of former president Slobodan Milosevic.
“Many journalists have fallen victim to local criminality and the government of Vojislav Kostunica should make it a first priority to solve these cases, the press freedom organisation said.
The journalist’s wife, Zivka Pantic, gave several press interviews on 9 June 2006 in which she said she had never been given any information about the outcome of the police investigation. She remains convinced that her husband was killed by a local mafia because he had written articles exposing organised crime in Jagodina and other cities in the Pomoravlje region.
Zivojin Trifunovic, former police chief for central Jagodina, and former city mayor Jovan Stojanovic, were arrested on 13 April 2003 for suspected implication in the murder of Pantic. They were released soon afterwards and charged only with embezzlement during the Slobodan Milosevic presidency.
Neither the killers nor those who ordered the murder of Slavko Curuvija, editor of the newspapers Dnevni Telegraf and Evropljanin, in front of his Belgrade home in April 1999, have ever been identified. Serbian journalists have even accused the authorities of doing no more than pretending to hold an investigation into the killing.