Slavko Curuvija

Photo: AP

Slavko Curuvija, a Serbian journalist and newspaper publisher, was brutally murdered in the centre of Belgrade, Serbia, on 11 April 1999. The perpetrators of the assassination, as well as its instigators, remain unknown. Nobody has been convicted for the crime.

Slavko Curuvija was born in August 1949 in Zagreb (the capital of Croatia). After finishing university in 1978, he initially worked for a company in Belgrade, and then for several years in the analytical department of the then-Federal Yugoslav police. He started to write at that time. In 1986, Curuvija joined the staff of the independent daily Borba, and became its acting editor-in-chief in 1993. He stayed with the paper until the spring of 1994, while also regularly contributing to different newspapers and TV stations in the former Yugoslavia.

In the spring of 1994, Curuvija embarked on his own path. First he created a weekly tabloid, Nedeljni telegraf, with his colleague Momcilo Djorgovic. In 1996, the two founded a daily, Dnevni telegraf, of which Curuvija was the director and editor-in-chief. After his friend left the daily, Curuvija became its sole owner. In 1998, he started another publication, the bi-weekly magazine Evropljanin.

Curuvija was in close personal contact with Mirjana Markovic, the wife of former Serbian president Slobodan Miloševic. Therefore, Curuvija's publications often contained insider information about decisions made by the regime. Tensions emerged in the relationship between Mirjana Markovic and Curuvija in the summer of 1998, when Curuvija's publications became increasingly critical of the regime and of the developments in Kosovo.

Pursuant to a special media decree, Dnevni telegraf was banned on 14 October 1998, along with several other newspapers. As a consequence of the ban of critical newspapers by the Miloševic regime, Dnevni telegraf was subsequently published in Montenegro. Also in the autumn of 1998, Curuvija and Markovic arranged a meeting, which reportedly turned into a heated argument. According to several sources, Curuvija warned her that the regime's actions would lead to war and, when Markovic suggested he was in favour of a possible bombing, replied, "Well, maybe they should bomb you; it's the only way for us to finally get you out of power!"

Thereafter, Curuvija's relationship with the regime continued to deteriorate. In late 1998, a fine of 3.6 million dinars was imposed on Curuvija for his publications. This amount was much more than any other handed out by the state to critical media in Serbia at the time. Then, in early March 1999, Curuvija was sentenced to a prison term of five months because of his work. His lawyers, however, were able to intervene and prevent Curuvija's incarceration.

A month later, on 11 April 1999, Serbian Orthodox Easter Sunday, Curuvija was shot dead by two masked men in front of his house in Belgrade.

Several media agencies reported that Mirjana Markovic had referred to Curuvija as "state enemy number one" at a meeting of her party, the Jugoslovenska levica-JUL, several days before the journalist's death. Around the same time, a pro-regime daily, Politika ekspres, published an article about him, accusing him of being anti-Serbian.

According to the Special Prosecutor's Office on Countering Organised Crime and Corruption, an eye-witness identified two suspects in the murder in December 2003. However, the police never revealed this information to the public, allegedly due to the involvement of several policemen from the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Curuvija was under close police surveillance for weeks before his death, reinforcing the suspicion that Serbian security agencies may have been involved.

In the meantime, other Serbian sources have claimed that Luka Pejovic, a Montenegrin who was shot dead in December 2000, was responsible for the killing. In addition, conflicting rumours exist regarding who ordered the assassination.

As of October 2008, no one has been formally charged with Slavko Curuvija's murder.

Timeline

11 March 2009: In view of the impending 10-year anniversary of Curuvija�s death, IPI appeals to Serbian authorities to step up their investigation into the killing

12 November 2008: IPI launches Justice Denied campaign, highlighting Curuvija's plight.

11 April 1999:
Slavko Curuvija is shot dead by two masked assailants outside his house in Belgrade.

Early March 1999:
Curuvija is sentenced to five months in prison because of his work. His lawyers are able to intervene and prevent him from serving the sentence.

Late 1998: The State imposes an inordinately high fine of 3.6 million dinars on Curuvija for his publications.

14 October 1998: Dvevni telegraf is banned, along with several other newspapers.

1998: Starts the bi-weekly magazine, Evropljanin.

1996: Curuvija and his colleague Momcilo Djorgovic establish a daily, Dvevni telegraf, with Curuvija as director and editor-in-chief.

1994:
Curuvija starts the weekly tabloid Nedelni telegraf with his colleague Momcilo Djorgovic.

1986: Curuvija joins the staff of the independent daily Borba.