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Serbia: Alleged Djindjic Assassins Arrested

Belgrade, 25 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic (pictured) said today that the man who allegedly shot former Premier Zoran Djindjic on 12 March was a former assistant chief of a special police unit, dpa reported. Police arrested two police commandos suspected of firing the shots that killed Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, Zivkovic said.

Reading an announcement, Zivkovic said the suspected shooter was an assistant commander of the Serbian police special operations unit (JSO) and that the gun believed to be his weapon was found buried in New Belgrade.

The man, Zvezdan Jovanovic, was arrested yesterday, Zivkovic said at a televised press conference.

Another JSO member, Sasa Pejakovic, was arrested under suspicion of direct involvement in the killing and the JSO commander, Dusan Maricic, was sacked and arrested over his alleged links to the crime family blamed for Djindjic's killing, Zivkovic said.

Djindjic was killed on 12 March in the courtyard of the Serbian government seat. The shots were fired from a window 180 meters away.

The authorities immediately blamed the so-called Zemun clan, a Belgrade crime family headed by the former chief of the JSO, Milorad Lukovic, and proclaimed a state of emergency.

Police launched a massive crackdown, using the expanded authority to investigate and detain under the state of emergency rules. Nearly 3,700 people were taken in for questioning and 1,075 were put under a 30-day detention, 591 of them in Belgrade.

Though dozens of known members of the Zemun clan were arrested, Lukovic and two other top leaders, suspected of organizing and ordering the killing, remain at large.

Zivkovic said the investigation would end "when all those involved in the killing are brought to justice."