FT, May 05, 2004
Djindjic assassination suspect faces Serbia court
By Eric Jansson in Belgrade
Serbian court officials yesterday said Milorad Lukovic, the alleged mastermind behind the assassination of Zoran Djindjic, the former prime minister, could appear in court as early as next Monday.
Mr Lukovic, a former paramilitary fighter and underworld boss best known in Serbia by his nom de guerre Legija, ended a 14-month manhunt at the weekend by surrendering to police outside his Belgrade home.
Vuk Draskovic, foreign minister of Serbia and Montenegro, said Mr Lukovic's surrender and arrest proved "no one can hide and escape from justice".
Listed by police as Serbia's most dangerous man, Mr Lukovic has already been on trial for six months in absentia for the murder of Djindjic, along with a dozen alleged co-conspirators.
Djindjic, architect of the country's most radical reforms, was assassinated in March last year.
Mr Lukovic's arrest could prove a big turning point in the politically sensitive trial, in which prosecutors are struggling against procedural delays and conflicting witness testimony.
His testimony could also have implications for the long-running war crimes trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav president, being held in The Hague.
Frustrations with the Djindjic assassination trial led Vojislav Kostunica, Serbia's new prime minister, last week to criticise court officials. Mr Kostunica said the trial "appears to be moving away from the truth".
Momcilo Bulatovic, a lawyer for Mr Lukovic, said that Serbia's recent rightward political shift, which brought Mr Kostunica to power, might have encouraged his client's surrender.
Serbs were stunned to learn Mr Lukovic somehow managed to surrender peacefully outside his own house after evading capture for more than a year.
As a former commander of Serbia's notorious Red Beret special operations police, Mr Lukovic is believed to know vital key details about other major recent political assassinations and attempted assassinations that have jolted Serbian politics in recent years.