Serbia arrests two ex-spies over journalist’s murder

The arrests came after Milorad Ulemek, a new witness, decided to talk.

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Serbian police on Tuesday said they had arrested two former intelligence officers suspected of involvement in the murder of journalist Slavko Curuvija, a fierce critic of late the strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

“Former senior officers of the State Security Service Ratko Romic and Milan Radonjic were arrested” in an ongoing investigation into the journalist’s murder, a police spokeswoman told AFP.

Special prosecutor for organized crime Miljko Radisavljevic told reporters the two “are suspected of organizing and carrying out the murder” along with Radomir Markovic, the notorious Milosevic-era secret police chief, and Miroslav Kurak, a former security services agent.

Kurak is suspected of pulling the trigger, the prosecutor said.

“Markovic is believed to have ordered the assassination (but) it is yet to be seen if we will reach some higher levels in masterminding it,” he said, referring to speculation that Milosevic or his influential wife at the time, Mira Markovic, were behind the murder.

Radomir Markovic -- no relation to Milosevic’s then-wife -- has been serving a 40-year sentence for the 1999 attempted murder of an opposition leader.

The prosecutor said the arrests came after a new witness decided to talk, Milorad Ulemek “Legija”, former head of an elite secret police unit who has been serving two 40-year jail terms for masterminding the murder of Serbian reformist prime minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003 and former president Ivan Stambolic in 2000.

“He gave very detailed testimony of the event. He neither asked for nor was given any benefit for the testimony,” the prosecutor said, adding that the probe would be wrapped up and charges brought “in a month or two”.

Serbia’s powerful Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, Milosevic’s information minister at the time of Curuvija’s murder, said there were two more witnesses to back up the new testimony, but refused to reveal their identities.

Vucic also refused to comment on his role in Milosevic’s regime at the time of the killing.

Curuvija was shot dead in front of his central Belgrade house in April 1999, during NATO’s bombing campaign against the former Yugoslavia in the Kosovo conflict.

At the time, he was the editor and owner of Dnevni Telegraf and Evropljanin, two of the leading independent publications in the country then made up of Serbia and Montenegro.
Curuvija’s murder was widely blamed on Milosevic’s secret police. His family has accused Milosevic of personally ordering the killing.