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Ex-Intelligence Officers Convicted Of Killing Serbian Journalist

Journalist Slavko Curuvija was gunned down outside his home in Belgrade in 1999.

A Serbian court has sentenced four former intelligence officers to lengthy prison terms for the 1999 killing of a prominent journalist who was critical of Yugoslavia's late strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

Slavko Curuvija, the owner and editor of two independent newspapers at the time, was gunned down outside his home in Belgrade on April 11, 1999, just days after the start of NATO’s bombing campaign that helped end Belgrade's crackdown against ethnic Albanians in its then-province Kosovo.

The Belgrade court on April 5 sentenced the former head of state security Rade Markovic and Milan Radonjic, who was in charge of Belgrade's intelligence branch, to 30 years in prison each.

Markovic is already serving a 40-year sentence for other political murders.

The court also handed 20 year prison terms to former intelligence officers Ratko Romic and fugitive Miroslav Kurak, who was sentenced in absentia.

Judge Snezana Jovanovic was quoted by local media as saying that the four men were found guilty of having "on the orders of an unknown person killed the journalist Slavko Curuvija."

Curuvija's family has accused Milosevic of personally ordering the killing.

Milosevic was arrested in 2001 and held at the UN court in The Hague for genocide and other war crimes committed during the conflicts that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

The former Serbian president died in the tribunal's detention unit in 2006 before a verdict was reached.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and dpa