May 28, 2004, in Podgorica, Serbia
Jovanovic, the controversial publisher and editor-in-chief of the opposition daily Dan (Day), was shot in a drive-by shooting on the evening of May 27 while he was leaving his office in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica.
Unidentified assailants shot Jovanovic in the head and chest with an automatic rifle as he was entering his car just after midnight. Dan is closely tied to the Socialist People's Party, which supported former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic throughout the 1990s. Jovanovic was head of the tax police in Milosevic's government during the 1990s.
In recent years, the newspaper has faced numerous lawsuits for criticizing Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, Jovanovic's former political ally from the 1990s. Both Dan and Jovanovic's family reported that the editor had received numerous death threats, and the newspaper's office in Podgorica was set on fire in April 2003.
Judge Radomir Ivanovic of the Podgorica High Court and police officers initiated a murder investigation, according to local press reports. Police said the murder was a top priority and called in German forensic experts to assist in examining recovered evidence, including the weapon and vehicle used in the killing, according to local press reports.
On June 9, police arrested Damir Mandic, a karate expert and organized crime figure, as a suspect. Ten days later, Ivanovic began questioning potential witnesses in the case.
In early September, the editor's wife, Slavica Jovanovic, testified before the court that the head of Montenegro's State Security Service (SDB), Dusko Markovic, had called her husband and threatened to kill him in April 2003, according to Dan.
A lawyer representing the Jovanovic family asked the court to call senior government officials--including Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, President Filip Vujanovic, and Markovic--for questioning, but the court rejected the request, the Belgrade-based news agency Beta reported.
On October 2, prosecutors charged Mandic with murder, citing gunpowder residue, a DNA analysis, and other evidence linking him to the Volkswagen Golf 3 vehicle used in the crime, the independent Podgorica-based weekly Monitor reported. The indictment refers to but does not identify other individuals who were with Mandic at the time of the shooting, according to local press reports.
While the indictment does not clarify the reason for the murder, the only serious motive discussed in the local press has been Jovanovic's work for Dan exposing government abuses.
Mandic pleaded not guilty in November, saying he was framed, The Associated Press reported. In April 2009, Mandic was sentenced to 30 years in prison for being an accomplice in Jovanovic's murder.
A lawyer representing the Jovanovic family and Dan staff has criticized the police investigation for failing to identify Mandic's accomplices; not identifying who ordered the killing; and not investigating possible links between Mandic and Montenegrin government authorities.
Journalists and human rights activists have complained about the slow progress of the police inquiry and have expressed concern that only one suspect has been identified and is being charged for the crime.
Beats Covered: Crime, Politics
Local or Foreign: Local
Type of Death: Murder
Suspected Source of Fire: Government Officials
Taken Captive: No
- Attacks on the Press 2005: Europe & Central Asia Snapshots, February 16, 2006
- Attacks on the Press 2004: Europe and Central Asia Analysis, March 14, 2005
- Attacks on the Press 2004: Serbia and Montenegro, March 14, 2005
- Opposition newspaper editor shot dead , May 28, 2004