Serbia Releases Defendants in Journalist’s Murder Trial

Source/Author: Balkan Insight, BIRN, Filip Rudic
Source/Photo: Photo: Slavko Curuvija Foundation

BELGRADE, 06.07.2017. – A Serbian court has released two former State Security officers charged with participating in the 1999 murder of opposition journalist Slavko Curuvija from custody and put them under house arrest.

The Special Court in Belgrade on Thursday released from custody two former Serbian State Security officers, Milan Radonjic and Ratko Romic, and placed them under house arrest for the duration of their trial for allegedly taking part in the murder of opposition journalist Slavko Curuvija in 1999.

The court decided to place the men under house arrest because the length of time they have spent in custody so far.

Defence lawyer Slobodan Ruzic said that the two defendants had been remanded in custody for a long time and that he was not surprised by the decision, regional television station N1 reported.

Thursday also saw the beginning of the next phase in the trial, as witnesses for the defence started to take the stand. The last witness for the prosecution appeared in court on Wednesday.

Journalist and editor Curuvija was gunned down outside his apartment in Belgrade on April 11, 1999 because of his opposition to the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, his family believe.

According to the indictment, an ‘unknown person’ ordered the killing, and Radomir Markovic, the former head of Serbian State Security, abetted the crime, while three former security service officers – Ratko Romic, Milan Radonjic and Miroslav Kurak – took part in the organisation and execution of the murder.

Kurak was the direct perpetrator, while Romic was his accomplice, it is alleged.

Three of the suspects have pleaded not guilty, while Kurak is on the run and is being tried in absentia.

Markovic is currently serving a 40-year sentence for the murder of former Serbian President Ivan Stambolic and other crimes, while Romic was acquitted alongside Radonjic in September last year of the attempted murder of opposition party leader Vuk Draskovic.