- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2003

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia, Jan. 30 (UPI) — The former head of Serbia's secret police was sentenced to seven years in prison Wednesday for his role in a bid on the life of a prominent opposition leader.

A judge sentenced Radomir Markovic, who headed then-President Slobodan Milosevic's secret Special Operations Unit, to seven years imprisonment for his attempt to cover up the attempt on Vuk Draskovic's life in October 1999. Draskovic, head of the Serbian Renewal Movement, escaped the attempt, but four top officials from his party were killed.

Also convicted were two members of the Special Operations Unit — Nenad Bujosevic, a former captain, and Nenad Ilic, a member — received 15 years in prison each for intentionally swerving a heavy truck loaded with sand on to the wrong side of a major road and smashing Draskovic's car at Lazarevac, near Belgrade.

A fourth defendant, Milan Radonjic, who ran the Belgrade state security center at the time, was acquitted.

Markovic continued to head the secret police for several months after Milosevic's fall in October 2000.

Critics said the sentences were too light and pandemonium broke out in the courtroom as they were announced. The deputy prosecutor of the Belgrade district court and Draskovic's lawyers had demanded the maximum sentence of 40 years in prison for each defendant.

"This is still a communist court," somebody shouted as Judge Miroslav Cvetkovic read the verdict. Others cried, "Murderers, murderers" and "Red Bandits."

Cvetkovic adjourned the hearing and later returned to finish the reading, but those inside refused to leave and threatened to stage a hunger strike in the courtroom. Police cordoned the court and barred entry to all. A reporter who tried to sneak in was pushed to the ground by police.

When interrogated in the first half of 2001 by officials from Serbia's new democratic government, Bujosevic and Ilic admitted taking part in the crime. But during the trial, they said the officials had instructed them to confess in order to prevent Milosevic's extradition to The Hague where he is being tried for war crimes on the former Yugoslavia.

"We were told the country's leadership guaranteed for us and that we would get our own prosecutor Milun (Dragutinovic)," Ilic said, implying they were exonerated from all charges.

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