Djindjic murder breakthrough

Serbian authorities say the main suspect in the killing, Milorad Lukovic, gave himself up to Serbian police on Sunday.

“Serbian Interior Minister Dragan Jocic announced that this evening, May 2, at 1900 GMT, Milorad Lukovic Legija, the top person charged in the case of the murder of Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic surrendered himself to Interior Ministry forces,” said a government statement.

“Lukovic has been arrested and legal proceedings are underway,” it added.

Lukovic, an ex-chief of the Red Berets secret police unit who is better known as Legija, is accused of masterminding the March 12, 2003 assassination along with another crime boss, Dusan Spasojevic.

Djindijc, a pro-Western reformist who helped topple former Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic, was killed by a sniper in central Belgrade, outside government offices.

The gunman, Zvezdan Jovanovic, allegedly confessed to the assassination but during his ongoing trial defence lawyers have said he spoke under duress.

A former Milosevic ally and a veteran of the Bosnian and Kosovo wars in the 1990s, Legija profited from the blurring of lines between politicians, the security forces and crime gangs which was common during Milosevic’s rule.

Djindjic’s murder shook the country and hastened the disintegration of the moderate alliance which had ruled Serbia since former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic was toppled from power in 2000.

A key figure in the anti-Milosevic movement, Djindjic had stirred up a range of enemies with his decision to extradite the former strongman to the UN war crimes tribunal at The Hague in 2001 and his efforts to crack down on organised crime.

Lukovic and 12 other criminal gang members have been trial for Djindjic’s murder since February.

Seven of them, including Lukovic, have been tried in absentia.

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