A court hearing into the murder of Slavko Ćuruvija was opened
The panel of the Appellate Court in Belgrade opened the main trial today in the proceedings for the murder of Slavko Ćuruvija.Source: Tanjug
The main trial was opened in the proceedings against four former employees of the State Security Agency who were sentenced by the first-instance verdict to a total of 100 years in prison for participating in the murder of journalist and owner of "Dnevni Telegraf" Slavko Ćuruvija in 1999.
The injured Branka Prpa, who was with Ćuruvija during the murder, repeated today that Miroslav Kurak did not shoot Ćuruvija. She said that she did not recognize Miroslav Kurak or Ratko Romić as the perpetrators of the murder.
Prpa repeated that she then felt a blow to the head, fell and then saw a pale man with black eyes approaching and shooting Ćuruvija in the head. As she pointed out after the murder, the perpetrator was standing over her and, as she concluded, was thinking about whether he was going to kill her too.
She gave a detailed description of the killer to the police, and in December 2000 she saw a death certificate in the newspaper of a man who resembled the killer, but today she did not want to repeat his name. According to Prpa, Ćuruvija's murder was preceded by permanent persecution and pressure.
Convicted Radomir Marković maintained his defense statement from the trial, adding that during the proceedings there were almost 100 witnesses, of which only Branka Prpa had direct knowledge of the murder, because she was a witness, while all the other witnesses, as he said, had knowledge from the newspaper or heard from someone.
Marković pointed out that Prpa stated in her testimony that the convicted Miroslav Kurak did not kill Ćuruvija, which, as the prosecution claims, repeatedly tried to discredit her statement.
Speaking about the witnesses, Marković said that Milorad Ulemek Legija was declared as a witness, and he himself said at the trial, as Marković said, that he had no direct knowledge of the murder, but only what he heard.
He also mentioned the brothers Miloš and Aleksandar Simović, whose statements he said were contradictory, and that the prosecution assessed the two as manipulative persons. Ćuruvija, as Marković stated, was under the measures of the State Security, because they had information that he was cooperating with foreign services, and not because his murder was planned. Marković emphasized that the motive for the murder could not be Ćuruvija's writing, because seven months before the murder, he was banned for inappropriate rhetoric and then his editorial office was confiscated and he was prevented from publishing it.
Answering the prosecutor's questions, Marković said that he met Ulemek when he became the head of the DB because Ulemek was the commander at the time. Convicted Milan Radonjić remained in his defense.
Ratko Romić also stood by the statement he made in his defense and added that he did not participate in the murder of Ćuruvija, as described in the indictment and verdict, stressing that there is no material evidence for the verdict. As the direct perpetrator of the murder, Miroslav Kurak, a member of the reserve team of the State Security Agency, who is on the run, is cited, so the verdict was pronounced in absentia. The judge ordered a break of 30 minutes, after which the investigation will continue.
The president of the panel reminded at the beginning that the appeals against the second first-instance verdict were filed by the prosecution, the defendants and their defense attorneys.
Today, the Prosecution stated that it will stand by its appeal, as well as the defendants and their defense attorneys.
According to the second instance verdict of the Special Court, the then head of the State Security (DB) Radomir Marković and the head of the Belgrade center of the DB Milan Radonjić were sentenced to the same sentences of 30 years in prison for incitement to murder, while a former operative within the Belgrade Center of DB Ratko Romic was sentenced to 20 years in prison as co-perpetrator in the murder. The same goes for Miroslav Kurak, a member of the reserve team of the State Security (DB), who is on the run, so the verdict was pronounced in absentia.