A Belgrade Court on Friday sentenced four former secret service officials to long term imprisonment for the murder of Slavko Ćuruvija, a Serbian journalist and newspaper publisher, 20 years ago.
The former state security chief, Radomir Markovic, and the head of the Belgrade section, Milan Radonjic, were handed 30 years imprisonment each, while agents Ratko Romic and Miroslav Kurak got 20 years each.
Mr Markovic, who is already serving a 40-year-sentence for other political murders, and Mr Radonjic were sentenced for ordering the killing, while Romic and Kurak, who is at large, carried it out.
The rulings can be appealed.
A prominent journalist and publisher critical of Slobodan Milosevic’s regime, Mr Curuvija, was gunned down in front of his home in Belgrade on April 11, 1999.
Serbia was at the time waging war against ethnic Albanian rebels in Kosovo and was bombed by NATO, which was trying to stop the fighting.
The legal process, which faced obstruction from the defence, took just a few days under 20 years to convict the four accused of the killing.
It did not resolve questions surrounding possible political motivations nor the apparent links to the Milosevic family.
The prosecutors said the assassination order came from an unidentified person at the very top of the regime.
In the opening statement in 2015, the prosecutor said Mr Curuvija was killed because he “criticised the political authorities and his influence on the public he could have had’’.
“The murder was committed for the preservation of the Milosevic regime,’’ prosecution said.
Mr Milosevic was toppled in massive protests in October 2000, after a 12-year reign, marked by the oppression of the media and political opponents at home and wars in the former Yugoslavia.
He died in 2006 while facing a war crimes trial at the UN tribunal in The Hague.
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