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Croatian, Bosnian Police Hunt Suspect In Editor's Murder

Murder suspect Zeljko Milovanovic
ZAGREB (Reuters) -- Croatian and Bosnian police have stepped up their murder hunt for two men suspected of blowing up a newspaper editor and one of his colleagues, after officers identified one suspect seen on CCTV footage planting the bomb.

Zagreb police pressed murder and conspiracy charges on October 31 against five individuals in the murder of Croatian "Nacional" weekly editor Ivo Pukanic and his marketing chief. Three Croats are in custody while two Serbs, one of them with a Bosnian and a Croatian passport, are on the run.

On November 1, spokesman Krunoslav Borovec said police had identified the individual -- filmed on security camera tapes -- who planted the bomb in "Nacional's" car park.

"It is one of the two fugitives. An intense manhunt is under way, with cooperation between Croatian and Bosnian police," Borovec said.

He provided no details, but local media named the suspect as Zeljko Milovanovic and said he was a former member of Serbia's Red Berets.

The Red Berets' commander Milorad Lukovic Legija has been convicted for the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003.

The Bosnian Serb police raided Milovanovic's premises in the northern town of Doboj on October 31 but did not find him.

"Police are continuing an intensive search, in cooperation with the police of the Muslim-Croat Federation, Serbia, and Croatia," said Darko Ilic' from the office of Bosnian Serb Republic's special prosecutor.

During the raid, police found sophisticated surveillance equipment and a black helmet identical to the one worn by the suspect in Pukanic's murder, Ilic said.

Pukanic's "Nacional" had written extensively about crime and corruption in the Balkans and Pukanic himself was believed to have contacts with the criminal underworld.

Zagreb pledged an all-out war against organized crime after a wave of unresolved violent incidents in Croatia, which have cast a shadow over its EU membership bid.

Fighting organized crime and graft is one of the main conditions Zagreb must meet as a criteria for European Union membership. Croatia hopes to conclude membership talks next year and join in 2010 or 2011.

In another high-profile murder, the daughter of a prominent lawyer was shot dead in Zagreb earlier this month. Prime Minister Ivo Sanader appointed new justice and interior ministers and a new police chief after that killing.