Belgrade journalist killed near home

Publications were banned last year in crackdown

War In Yugoslavia

April 12, 1999|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- In a vicious message to the few remaining independent news outlets in Yugoslavia, gunmen shot and killed a well-known opposition publisher yesterday outside his apartment building in central Belgrade.

Slavko Curuvija, who was about 50 and owned the Dnevni Telegraf, or the Daily Telegraph, and the news biweekly Evropljanin, was shot as he returned home from an Easter lunch with his wife, historian Branka Prpa.

Prpa told police and friends that two gunmen dressed in black, including black leather jackets, fired several bullets into Curuvija's back. They then pistol-whipped her, opening a large cut on her head, she said, before firing more shots into Curuvija's head.

"I can't believe that they're killing journalists," Prpa said afterward in her apartment. "Was he so dangerous for the state? He was just doing his job."

In the widespread crackdown by President Slobodan Milosevic against the independent news media, Dnevni Telegraf and Evropljanin were heavily fined last year for breaching Serbia's restrictive information law, passed in October. The publications were later banned.

Curuvija reregistered them in Montenegro, Yugoslavia's second, more liberal republic. They were printed in Croatia, but their distribution in Serbia had been widely curtailed.

In recent weeks, the Yugoslav government has moved to shut down all independent media here, closing radio station B-92 in Belgrade and reopening it under more compliant leadership, as well as closing Radio 021 in Novi Sad. All independent Albanian-language media in Kosovo have also been shut down or destroyed.

Pub Date: 4/12/99

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