The Special Court in Belgrade has found four former members of State Security (DB) guilty for the 1999 murder of publisher and journalist Slavko Curuvija.
After reading the verdict, the president of the Trial Chamber announced that the accused Radomir Markovic and Milan Radonjic were sentenced to 30 years in prison. Miroslav Kurak and Ratko Romic received 20 years each.
Markovic was the head of the DB at the time of the murder, Radonjic headed the DB’s Belgrade office, where Romic served, as well as Kurak, who is now at large.
The prosecution and the defence have the right to appeal the court’s decision.
Markovic and Radonjic stood accused of the criminal offence of instigating a grave murder, while Romic and Kurak were indicted for carrying it out.
The Organized Crime Prosecutor’s Office argued in favour of handing down 40 years sentence to all four indictees, while they and their defence lawyers sought acquittal.
The prosecution believes that the murder was ordered “by top state officials at the time,” and that the accused were the perpetrators.
On the other hand, the position of the defence was that “a whole era was on trial” in this case and that there was no solid evidence against the accused. Over 100 witnesses testified during the trial.
Former Commander of the Special Operations Unit, Milorad Ulemek Legija was the key trial witness, because it was his testimony before the Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime that led to the launch of an official investigation in January 2013, when Radonjic and Romic were arrested.
Ulemek is currently serving 40 years in prison for a series of murders and other crimes. Markovic is also serving a previous 40-year sentence.
Radonjic and Romic have been under house arrest and ordered to wear electronic surveillance devices since July 2017. They had spent the previous three and a half years in detention in the District Prison in Belgrade.
According to the indictment, on April 11, 1999, Curuvija was killed by Miroslav Kurak and his accomplice Ratko Romic, who also struck Curuvija’s life partner Branka Prpa on the head with a pistol.
According to the indictment, Curuvija was murdered “because of his political statements made in the country and abroad and criticism of the then political authorities, the ability to influence public opinion and as a supporter of the opposition bloc”. He was killed on Easter 1999, at the entrance to the building where he lived.
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