Damic Mandic, former karate champion and key organised crime figure in Serbia-Montenegro, has been charged with the murder of Dusko Jovanovic, editor of the opposition daily Dan. Held in custody since the beginning of June, Mandic is suspected of having driven the car that was involved in the journalist's murder on 28 May this year.
The murder of Jovanovic, known for his strident criticism of the powerful Montenegro Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic, heightened tensions in the country. His family and friends have on several occasions accused the authorities of seeking to bury the case and to obstruct a full investigation. The implication of secret service involvement in the killing, as charged by those close to the journalist, has been strongly denied by the Montenegro authorities.
28.05.04 - Newspaper editor murdered in capital of Montenegro
Dusko Jovanovic, publisher and editor of the daily Dan, was gunned down in the street outside his newspaper's headquarters in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, shortly after midnight today.
He was getting into his car when he was hit in the head and chest by shots fired from an automatic rifle. His assailants fled in a black vehicle. Jovanovic died shortly after being rushed to a hospital. Investigating judge Radomir Ivanovic said the police had detained several suspects but the motive for the murder was not yet known.
Reporters Without Borders called on interior minister Dragan Djurovic to ensure that investigators do not rule out the possibility that the killing was linked to Jovanovic's work as an editor. The organisation also asked to be kept informed of developments in the enquiry.
Dan said Jovanovic had received many death threats. The murder was an attempt in "the most horrible manner to silence Dan," the newspaper said. The shots were also targeted at "freedom of expression, independent journalism and democracy," the newspaper added.
Dan has been involved in several judicial cases and Jovanovic, a former member of the Montenegro parliament, had often criticised the ruling coalition led by the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, who had tried to sue him and the newspaper.
The newspaper was, for example, accused of libel in connection with a case concerning cigarette trafficking in the Balkans. It is said to support the opposition and the People's Socialist Party, which backed former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.
In 2003, Jovanovic was charged by the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia for revealing the name of a protected witness in the Milosevic trial. The prosecution of Jovanovic was dropped in April 2004 after he apologised in an editorial, expressing "true remorse" for any harm done to the court or the witness.