New York, September 9, 2020 – The Belgrade Appeals Court announced on September 7 that it had overturned the convictions of four former Serbian State Security officers involved in the 1999 killing of journalist Slavko Ćuruvija, according to news reports.
“CPJ is troubled and disappointed by a Serbian court’s decision to overturn the convictions of four former Serbian State Security officers for the murder of journalist Slavko Ćuruvija,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martínez de la Serna. “It has already been over 20 years since Ćuruvija was murdered in cold blood, and by quashing the 2019 verdict, the court decision makes the world doubt whether the justice in this case will ever be served.”
The court’s decision, issued on July 15 but made public only this week, overturned the 30-year jail sentences of former head of State Security Radomir Marković and former security service officer Milan Radonjić, and the 20-year sentences of former secret service agents Ratko Romić and Miroslav Kurak, according to those reports, which said that the court found that their previous verdicts violated the country’s criminal procedure provisions. The case is expected to be retried, according to those reports.
On April 5, 2019, the four men had been convicted of murdering Ćuruvija, owner of the mass-circulation Dnevni Telegraf and the weekly magazine Evropljanin, as CPJ documented at the time. Ćuruvija was an outspoken critic of then Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, and was persecuted by Serbian authorities for his journalistic work, according to CPJ research.
[Editors’ note: This article has been changed in its first paragraph to clarify that the convicted officers were former members of Serbian State Security.]