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Serbia-Montenegro31 March 2003

Prosecutor admits blocking enquiry into murder of journalist Slavko Curuvija

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Slavko Curuvija

Reporters Without Borders called on Serbia-Montenegro authorities today to investigate the confessions of a state prosecutor arrested for having underworld ties that he blocked the enquiry into the 1999 murder of Slavko Curuvija (photo), publisher of the newspapers Dnevni Telegraf and Evropljanin.

"At a time when the weaknesses of the legal system are clear for all to see, when the prosecutor who obstructed the enquiry is suspended and Serbia-Montenegro will soon become the 45th member of the Council of Europe, we hope the shameless impunity enjoyed by Curuvija’s killers will soon end," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard.

He called on prime minister Zoran Zivkovic and interior minister Dusan Mihajlovic to do all they could to find those who killed the journalist and put them on trial.

Under the state of emergency declared on 12 March after the assassination of prime minister Zoran Djindjic, deputy state prosecutor Milan Sarajlic was suspended and arrested, along with other legal officials thought to be linked with underworld figures.

The interior ministry said Sarajlic had confessed during his detention to working with the powerful Zemun gang and to actively obstructing the Curuvija murder probe. State prosecutor Sinisa Simic, who was in charge of the enquiry, was sacked on 21 March.

Curuvija was shot dead by two masked men in front of his Belgrade home on 11 April 1999 as he arrived there with his wife. He had been constantly harassed for his critical writings about the regime of President Slobodan Milosevic.

In March 2001, some Belgrade media said police knew who murdered him and who had ordered the killing. They said the actual killer was dead, the mastermind would soon be arrested and that the murder had no links with state security officials. But his widow said state security officials were protecting the mastermind.

Djordje Martic, former editor of newspaper Ekspres Politika, said on 14 April 2001 that an article that appeared in the paper on 6 April 1999, a few days before the murder, accusing him of being a traitor and in favour of the NATO military attack, had been written on the orders of Milosevic’s wife, Mirjana Markovic, head of the leftist party Yugoslavia.




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