Serbian police arrest man convicted for helping to assassinate a prime minister

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Serbian police catch convicted assassin

BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia’s police on Thursday caught a fugitive convicted of taking part in the assassination of Serbia’s Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic seven years ago.

Milos Simovic, 31, was arrested in a forest area west of Belgrade early in the morning as he tried to illegally enter Serbia from Croatia, the police said in a statement.

Simovic, 31, had been on the run since March 2003 when Djindjic was killed by a sniper bullet in front of the government headquarters in Belgrade.

In 2007, Simovic was sentenced in absentia to 30 years in prison with 10 other former gang members and paramilitaries for a planning role in the assassination.

Djindjic had led a popular uprising that toppled President Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. He became Serbia’s prime minister in 2001, extraditing Milosevic to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in the Netherlands, where he died of a heart attack in 2006.

In 2008, Simovic was separately sentenced to 40 years in prison for taking part in a series of mobster-style killings conducted by the so-called “Zemun clan” that operated from a Belgrade suburb in the 1990s and early 2000.

After his arrest on Thursday, Simovic was “immediately” sent to a Serbian prison facility to serve out his sentences, police said.

Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic praised the cooperation between the police forces of Serbia and Croatia — two former wartime foes — which he said led to Simovic’s arrest.

Croatia’s police said Simovic is suspected in an attempted murder of another former Zemun clan member, Sretko Kalinic, near the Croatian capital, Zagreb, earlier this week.

Kalinic, also convicted in absentia to 30 years in prison for taking part in Djindjic’s murder, was seriously injured in the attack.


Associated Press writer Snjezana Vukic contributed to this report from Zagreb, Croatia.

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