Hundred-year prison term for defendants in Slavko Ćuruvija murder trial

April 15, 2019

The Higher Court in Belgrade’s Special Department for Organised Crime has sentenced all four defendants to a total of 100 years imprisonment for the murder of Slavko Ćuruvija, a journalist and then owner of publications Dnevni Telegraf and Evropljanin.

Twenty years after the killing and almost four years after the start of the trial, Radomir Marković was sentenced to 30 years in prison, as was Milan Radonjić, while Ratko Romić was condemned to a 20-year term, along with Miroslav Kurak, who is on the run and was convicted in absentia.

The court, however, did not determine who ordered this murder, while the indictment claimed that the order was given at the very top of the government, by Slobodan Milošević and Mirjana Marković. The verdict includes another Unknown Individual – who actually directly carried out the murder. The indictment names Miroslav Kurak as having used a “Škorpion” gun to shoot Ćuruvia. However, the trail chamber didn’t consider that there was sufficient evidence to confirm which of the co-perpetrators actually did the deed in the passageway where the crime was committed.

The Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation welcomed the trial chamber’s decision and estimated that, despite the fact that the maximum possible sentence wasn’t imposed on the accused, it is of crucial importance that the trail chamber took the stance that the accused are guilty of the brutal murder of Ćuruvija, which took place on 11th April 1999.

Slavko Ćuruvija’s daughter, Jelena, stated that the verdict confirmed unequivocally that the state was behind her father’s murder.

Although journalists, editors, and representatives of journalists’ associations have welcomed the verdict, noting that this is the first such verdict for the murder of a journalist in Serbia, they believe that it is essential to fully bring to light who ordered the assassination and who carried out the murder of Slavko Ćuruvija twenty years ago.

The verdict was also welcomed by OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir, organisation Reporters Without Borders and the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, while Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić assessed that the verdict brought against those accused of murdering Slavko Ćuruvija represents a “very important message”.