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Main Suspect in Last Year's Assassination of Serbia's PM Gives Himself up to Authorities - 2004-05-03


Serbian authorities say the suspected mastermind behind the assassination last year of Serbia's prime minister Zoran Djindjic has surrendered to local police. The suspect gave himself up Sunday after a year on the run.

Serbian security officials say former special police commander Milorad "Legija" Lukovic, gave himself up Sunday outside his house in a Belgrade suburb.

The former police commander, who authorities have linked to a Belgrade mafia group, was wanted as Serbia's number-one fugitive for his alleged involvement in the killing of the country's first non-communist prime minister since World War II.

Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, a pro-western reformist who helped topple former Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic, was killed by a sniper outside government offices in central Belgrade in March, 2003. The accused gunman, Zvezdan Jovanovic, allegedly confessed to the assassination, but during his trial defense lawyers claimed his confession was made under duress.

Police have named 13 people in an alleged plot by the so-called "Zemun Clan" crime gang to kill Mr. Djindjic to head off crime reforms he was said to be undertaking. Five people, including the alleged gunman, are the defendants in the ongoing murder trial.

One theory was that Mr. Djindjic was killed for his part in the extradition of Mr. Milosevic to The Hague to stand trial at the U.N. war-crimes tribunal.

Investigators now hope that the arrest of the former police commander will shed more light on what has been a national trauma.

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