It took 20 years, including four years of judicial proceedings, for the perpetrators of Curuvija’s murder – former four state security officers – to be tried and convicted by a special court for organized crime. This is the first time in recent Serbian history that anyone has been convicted of murdering a journalist.
“We welcome this highly symbolic conviction, one that testifies to a strong commitment by the Serbian authorities to respect the rule of law and the fight against impunity,” said Pauline Adès-Mevel, the head of RSF’s European Union and Balkans desk. “The justice system must nonetheless continue its efforts in order to convict all those involved in Slavko Curujiva’s murder, including the person who gave the orders.”
A leading critic of then President Slobodan Milosevic’s regime, Curujiva was shot 14 times in the back outside his home by two masked man on 11 April 1999. This courageous and professional journalist’s murder became a symbol of the regime’s authoritarian excesses, but 15 years went by before the suspected killers were arrested and charged.
While hailing the conviction of Curujiva’s killers, RSF points out that two other murders of Serbian journalists – Dada Vujasinović on 8 April 1994 and Milan Pantić on 11 June 2001 – have yet to be solved, and calls for the investigations to be relaunched. According to the Association of Serbian Journalists (UNS), over 30 journalists working for Serbian media were killed or went missing during the wars in former Yugoslavia.
Serbia is ranked 76th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.