15 years since murder of Slavko Ćuruvija
The 15th anniversary of the murder of Slavko Ćuruvija is marked without the crime solved, although every government each year promises this was a priority.Source: B92
Three months ago, authorities revealed that Milorad Ulemek Legija was an important witness who helped in identifying the suspected perpetrators of the murder, which happened on Easter Sunday, April 11, 1999, as NATO was bombing Serbia.
On the basis of Legija's statement two former officers of the State Security (DB), Milan Radonjić and Ratko Romić, were arrested in January.
At the same time another suspect, former DB operative Miroslav Kurak, has an arrest warrant issued for him and is on the run.
Special Prosecutor for Organized Crime Miljko Radosavljević said on Thursday that the investigation is still ongoing and that very intensive work was done on the case. "I am pleased with the results so far of the investigative activities and expect that the investigation will be completed soon," he said.
President of the Commission to Investigate Murders of Journalists Veran Matić said he expected an indictment to be raised before the legal deadline of six months from the arrest of the suspects.
Ćuruvija was a journalist and publisher of the Dnevni Telegraf daily and the magazine Evropljanin when he was shot and killed in front of his home in Svetogorska Street. The killers approached him from behind and fired a total of 17 rounds.
This happened during the NATO bombing, five days after the then daily newspaper Politika Ekspres accused him of "treason" and "wishing that bombs fell."
"We can say that the investigation intensified to a level that can be defined as completion of collection of evidence and testimonies necessary to indict," stated Matić. He added that the competent authorities "always came up a little short" in solving the case, and that the commission "united forces and created an atmosphere in which a proactive approach offset the 'little' part".
"We now for the first time officially have suspects for the crime, who are in custody. In this way, a message was sent to all criminals that there is no protection from prosecution, and for the most serious crimes also no forgetting that comes with the passage of time," said Matić.
The Ćuruvije case is treated as a symbol of a time of terror against the media of the 1990s, and today the investigation of the Special Prosecutor's Office and the Commission should become a symbol of the fact that even after 15 years suspected perpetrators and masterminds can be brought to justice.
The Commission announced that they will deal with who and in what way obstructed the work of investigating authorities in previous years.
On the day marking the anniversary of the murder, the Foundation Slavko Ćuruvija recalls that freedom of speech and safety of journalists in Serbia is still in danger.
"Although in the previous period suspected perpetrators of the assassination of Slavko Ćuruvija have been arrested, there has been no answer to the question of who ordered the murder. The question of the moral responsibility of those who participated in the government at the time of the murder of Slavko Ćuruvija also has not been brought up. Murders of Duga journalist Dade Vujasinović and Večernje Novosti correspondent Milan Pantić are still without a court epilogue," said the Foundation, which has Ćuruvija's daughter, Jelena Ćuruvija, as honorary president.
A statement also pointed out that the values for which Ćuruvija fought, such as freedom of speech and the right of newspaper editors to do their work in accordance with the standards of the profession, but also the law, have not yet been reached.
"The state needs to take decisive measures to ensure freedom of the media and create a climate for journalists to do their job to the highest standards of the profession. It is necessary to release the media from the constraints of authorities, that directly or indirectly, continue to influence the editorial policy of media outlets, "said the Foundation.