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Serbia: Djindjic Murder Trial Opens

Belgrade, 22 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The trial in the murder of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic (pictured) gets under way today. Twenty-one people arrested in connection with the 12 March assassination of Djindjic are due to appear in a high-security special court in Belgrade. Among them are a former special forces commander Zvezdan Jovanovic, accused of actually gunning down Djindjic with a sniper bullet.

Fifteen suspects are still at large and will be tried in absentia, including former special forces chief Milorad Lukovic. He is accused of masterminding the assassination.

Authorities have blamed Djindjic's murder on criminal bosses linked to a crack police unit set up under the rule of former President Slobodan Milosevic.

Djindjic angered nationalists by sending Milosevic to the war crimes court in The Hague. Correspondents say the trial could last over a year.