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Serbia-Montenegro13 April 2004

Call for justice for Slavko Curuvija on fifth anniversary of murder

Reporters Without Borders reiterated its call for justice for slain newspaper editor Slavko Curuvija today, five years after his April 1999 murder in Belgrade. Curuvija’s killers are still at large although reportedly identified by an eye-witness. The police say that do not have enough proof to indict the suspects.

"We hope that your government’s declared commitment to identify and publish those reponsible for this murder was more than just an electoral promise," Reporters Without Borders said in a letter to interior minister Dragan Jocic. "Slavko Curuvija’s family and his colleagues in Serbia and elsewhere in the world call for no effort to be spared until justice is done."

The fifth anniversary has been the occasion of several comments by officials about the case. Former deputy interior minister Nenad Milic said an eye-witness had identified the killers, but his successor, Miroslav Milosevic, said the police had no "valid evidence" against the suspects. Police inspector general Vladimir Bozovic said a special team was working on the case.

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.

Under the state of emergency declared on 12 March 2003 after the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, deputy state prosecutor Milan Sarajlic was suspended and arrested along with other judicial officials thought to be linked with underworld figures.

The interior ministry said Sarajlic 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 fired on 21 March 2003.

Curuvija, who edited the newspapers Dnevni Telegraf and Evropljanin, was shot dead by two masked men on 11 April 1999 as he arrived in front of his Belgrade home with his wife. He had been constantly harassed for his articles criticising the regime of President Slobodan Milosevic.

Djordje Martic, former editor of newspaper Ekspres Politika, said on 14 April 2001 that an article that appeared in his paper on 6 April 1999, a few days before the murder, accusing Curuvija of being a traitor and in favour of the NATO military offensive, was written on the orders of Milosevic’s wife, Mirjana Markovic.

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