Serbia's court to close Slobodan Milosevic case

A special Serbian court said it would formally close the murder case against Slobodan Milosevic, who was accused of masterminding the slaying of his top political foe and botched attempts to kill another, a court official said Monday. Milosevic died March 11 in the detention facility of the U.N. war crimes court in The Hague, Netherlands. "The cases will be closed when we receive Milosevic's death certificate," court spokeswoman Maja Kovacevic said.

The Belgrade-based Special Court will end proceedings against Milosevic for his role in the killing of former Serbia's President Ivan Stambolic six years ago and for 1999 and 2000 assassination attempts against Vuk Draskovic, a former opposition leader and now Serbia-Montenegro's foreign minister, Kovacevic said. The court handles war crimes and other prominent cases related to Milosevic's decade-long rule.

Last year the court convicted and sentenced a paramilitary commander, a former secret police chief and five other men for the killing of Stambolic and for a failed attempt to assassinate Draskovic between 15 and 40 years in jail respectively.

"The sentence against direct perpetrators identified Milosevic as the mastermind so technically he didn't die as an innocent man," said Nikola Barovic, a Belgrade's lawyer who represents Stambolic's family. Serbia's pro-Western authorities arrested Milosevic in 2001 by Serbian for fraud and embezzlement. The former president was later indicted for his alleged role in masterminding Stambolic's death, and in a separate case for allegedly plotting to kill Draskovic. Both trials were postponed until the end of the separate trial on war crimes charges at the U.N. tribunal.

Stambolic, Serbia's communist leader until Milosevic ousted him in 1988, was kidnapped in August 2000, taken to a forest in northern Serbia and executed. Draskovic was targeted twice once in 1999, when four of his top associates were killed in an orchestrated car crash and again at the coastal Montenegrin town of Budva in June 2000, reports the AP.


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