In a retrial, the Belgrade Special Court found guilty four former members of the State Security Service (SDB) of killing Serbia's journalist and publisher Slavko Curuvija in April of 1999 during the NATO bombing of Serbia, to, as it said, prevent the repression of Kosovo Albanians.
The court sentenced Radomir Markovic and Milan Radonjic to 30 years and Ratko Romic and Miroslav Kurak to 20 years in prison each. The latter is still at large.
Journalists associations and Curuvija’s family welcomed the verdict, saying they hoped it would become final in about a year.
„Justice must be served,“ the Secretary-General of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) Ricardo Gutiérrez said, commenting on the first instance verdict handed down in the Curuvija’s murder retrial.
Defence lawyer Zora Dobricanin Nikodinovic said she would appeal the verdict.
The Appellate Court annulled the previous verdict and ordered a retrial accepting the defence appeal.
At the retrial, prosecutor Milenko Mandic asked for a maximum of 40 years of imprisonment for all defendants, saying Curuvija was „a patriot who publicly said that the then-president Slobodan Milosevic was responsible for the civilisational destruction of Serbia.“
The defence requested the acquittal, claiming the procedure was initiated to blame Milosevic for all the bad things that happened in the 1990s.
After draconic fines for Curuvija’s daily and weekly, which led to their shutdown, he was killed on April 11, 1999, on Orthodox Easter, during the NATO bombing, as the indictment said, „on the order of N.N. persons from the highest structures of government „.
Defence lawyer Zora Dobricanin Nikodinovic told reporters that she would appeal the verdict and that it was clear that Slavko Curuvija’s killer was not in court or on the dock on Thursday.
Slobodan Ruzic, Curuvija’s children’s lawyer, said he was satisfied with the verdict and that he expected it because no new evidence was presented at the retrial.
He added he expected the defence to appeal.
The chairwoman of the three-member panel of the Special Court, Snezana Jovanovic, said the verdict was passed by the panel’s majority vote.
She said that there were no substantial changes in the verdict compared to the previous one.
Explaining the verdict, Jovanovic said that the former head of the State Security Service (SDB), Rade Markovic, informed the then head of the Belgrade centre, Milan Radonjic, about the plan to kill Curuvija. She added that Radonjic then passed the plan on to Romic and Kurak, also members of the SDB.