Indictment for murder of journalist Curuvija legally valid

The Court of Appeal in Belgrade confirmed an indictment against four members of the former State Security Service (DB) accused of murdering Slavko Curuvija.

Source: B92, Tanjug
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Curuvija was a journalist and owner of Belgrade-based daily Dnevni Telegraf, who was shot and killed on Easter, in April 1999, as NATO was conducting its aerial war against Serbia.

This decision rejected an appeal of the accused and rendered the indictment legally valid, and the trial should start soon.

The accused are former DB chief Radomir Markovic, chief of the DB Belgrade center Milan Radonjic, inspector Ratko Romic and member of the DB reserve staff Milan Kurak.

The Court of Appeal said in a release that the first instance court explained their decision to confirm the indictment with sufficiently clear and substantiated arguments showing that there was sufficient evidence that the accused had committed the crimes relevant to the case.

The Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime charged the defendants with killing Curuvija "for base motives." If convicted for an aggravated murder, they face between 30 and 40 years in prison.

The key witness in this investigation after whose testimony the accused were arrested on January 13, 2014, is a former member of the DB and that is, commander of the Special Operations Unit (JSO) Milorad Ulemek Legija, who has been imprisoned for his role in the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.

Ulemek of his own initiative, unconditionally, in January 2014 gave a statement to the prosecution telling in detail what he knew about the liquidation.

At the time of the murder SPS, JUL and SRS parties were in power in Serbia.

Markovic was arrested in February 2001 and sentenced to a maximum prison sentence of 40 years for the 2000 murder of Ivan Stambolic and four members of the SPO party during an attempted assassination of Vuk Draskovic on the Ibar highway in 1999.

Radonjic and Romic are also on trial for helping in another attempted murder of Draskovic, that took place in Budva, Montenegro, in 2000.

A first instance ruling found them guilty and sentenced to eight and seven years in prison, but the verdict was overturned and a retrial ordered.

Commission welcomes court's decision

The Serbian government's commission set up to investigate cases of murders of journalists, chaired by Veran Matic, issued a statement on Monday and welcomed the decision of the Court of Appeals.

"I would like to extend my congratulations to the Prosecution for Organized Crime and other state bodies (Ministry of Internal Affairs, Security Information Agency) on their persistence in solving this case. We hope that court proceedings will determine full truth about this killing and that executioners and masterminds of this killings will be adequately punished. Moreover, we hope that we will soon witness the resolve of other cases that the Commission deals with," Matic said in the statement, and added:

"Not a single case of the killing of journalist should remain unsolved and unpunished, as impunity only additionally encourages future violence against journalists, media workers and media companies. We hope that the resolve of the killing of our colleague Slavko Curuvija, which is 16 year old, will serve as incentive that no killing should be forgotten, and as a reminder to all competent institutions and governments that they have to perform their job by paying special attention to the cases of violence against journalists and media, especially due to the significant role that free media play in the contemporary societies."

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