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Serbian Lawyers Announce Strike In Response To Killing Of Ex-Milosevic Attorney


Serbian lawyer Dragoslav Ognjanovic (file photo)
Serbian lawyer Dragoslav Ognjanovic (file photo)

Serbian lawyers have declared a week-long strike to protest the killing of Dragoslav Ognjanovic, a prominent criminal lawyer who was once on the defense team of former strongman Slobodan Milosevic at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.

The Bar Association of Serbia said in a statement on July 29 that the 57-year-old’s murder "showed in a most drastic way the circumstances in which lawyers in Serbia conduct their professional work."

"This killing is only the latest in a series of attacks on lawyers, many of which have remained unsolved," the statement added, urging authorities to use "all possible resources" to find the killer.

The Interior Ministry said Ognjanovic was shot down near his apartment building in Belgrade’s Novi Beograd neighborhood late on July 28.

Ognjanovic’s 26-year-old son was wounded in the arm in the attack.

Police said they were searching for the attacker and had no information on the motive for the incident.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on July 29 while attending an army shooting exercise that police have "some clues" and that the state will step up pressure to put a lid on organized crime and the drug trade.

"The clan war over the drug market is becoming something that the state must deal with in a more brutal way," Vucic said.

Ognjanovic served in the early 2000s on a legal team that helped to defend Milosevic during his trial before the ex-International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The former president of Serbia was arrested in 2001 and held at the UN court in The Hague, Netherlands, for genocide and other war crimes committed during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

But Milosevic died in the tribunal's detention unit in 2006 before a verdict was reached.

Ognjanovic also served as a defense lawyer in a number of high-profile mafia cases in Serbia and Montenegro.

Several prominent members of Serbian and Montenegrin organized crime networks have been killed in Belgrade in recent years.

Police described the killings as being part of a gang war over the illegal drugs market.

In a joint statement, the heads of the Bar Association of Serbia and the Bar Association of Belgrade said the shooting of Ognjanovic was "the last in a series of numerous attacks on lawyers."

"[We will] exert maximum pressure on the competent state authorities in order to find the perpetrators of this crime in the shortest possible time," Viktor Gostiljac and Jugoslav Tintor said.

With reporting by Reuters