Slavko Curuvija Foundation is shocked by the Court of Appeal verdict: A country not punishing murderers has no future

February 2, 2024

Slavko Curuvija Foundation is shocked by the Court of Appeal’s decision to set free former members of the State Security Service accused of the murder of Slavko Curuvija. This is a deeply disturbing judgment for family, friends, colleagues and followers of the journalist and publisher who was murdered because he had been publicly criticising the criminal regime of Slobodan Milosevic. This judgment is a clear sign that the state is not capable of fighting the darkest spots of its own services from the 1990s and that they continue to have a massive impact on the judiciary and political processes in Serbia.

Despite the fact that both domestic and international audiences for almost a quarter of the century demanded bringing this crime to light and the just punishment for its perpetrators, the five-judge panel of the Court of Appeal demonstrated that instead of evidence and laws, they found it more important to protect representatives of the state immersed in crime and secret service that for many times proved that human lives do not matter to them.

The members of the judge’s panel in the appeal who have adopted the verdict that will forever stay in the conscience of the judiciary and Serbian society are Nada Hadzi Peric, Vesna Petrovic, Dragan Cesarevic, Marko Jocic and Dusanka Djordjevic.

Their decision is just a culmination of a shameful trial that took almost nine years and was profuse with weird decisions of the judge’s panels, first-instance judgments written to be quashed, intimidation of key witnesses and their families, refusal to invite to the stand the witnesses who knew the most about the case. This judgment is a triumph of the criminalised parts of the secret service, responsible for many crimes, and it is a testimony that those crimes will never be solved. At the same time, those who had killed will continue to influence the institutions of this state.

A country that is not punishing murderers has no future. This decision undermines the rule of law in Serbia, halting the democratic processes and suspending the freedom of speech. The country is joining the darkest countries where killing someone for publicly expressing criticism can go unpunished.

Once again, we recall that the accused are those who had murdered a journalist who was wire-tapped and tailed by the secret service before the crime, whose murder was announced on state television while the highest state officials were taking action against him. The state media had spread monstrous lies about him, the state destroyed his property, and his associates were persecuted.

The Court of Appeal verdict is ultimately legitimising this type of criminal system, declaring a comeback of the 1990s.