|Assassination of Zoran ?in?i?|
Zoran ?in?i? at Davos Conference
|Location||Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro|
|Date||12 March 2003 |
12:23 p.m. (UTC+01:00)
|Weapon||Heckler & Koch G3 rifle|
|Deaths||1 (Zoran ?in?i?)|
|Injured||1 (Milan Veruovi?, bodyguard)|
|Perpetrators||Zvezdan Jovanovi? (incl. 11 accomplices under the orders of Milorad Ulemek with ties to Serbian Organized Crime)|
Zoran ?in?i?, the sixth Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, was assassinated at 12:23 p.m. Central European Time on Wednesday, March 12, 2003, in Belgrade, Serbia. ?in?i? was fatally shot by a sniper while exiting his vehicle outside of the back entrance of the Serbian government headquarters.
?in?i? previously escaped an assassination attempt in February 2003, in which a truck driven by Dejan Milenkovi? (AKA Bagzi), a member of the Zemun Clan, an organized crime group, attempted to force the Prime Minister's car off the road in Novi Beograd. ?in?i? escaped injury thanks to his security detail. Milenkovi? was arrested, but released from custody after only a few days. The investigative court explained their decision to release Milenkovi? by stating that he was a salesman whose business suffered from his absence.[clarification needed]
?in?i? had made many enemies domestically throughout his political career primarily because of his regard as being pro-Western and his hard-line policies on organized crime. ?in?i? extradited Slobodan Milo?evi? to the ICTY in 2001.
The assassination was organized and planned by Du?an Spasojevi? and Milorad Ulemek, also known as Legija. Ulemek was an ex-commander of the JSO (Special Operations Unit), which was founded by Slobodan Milo?evi?'s secret service during the 1990s and was used during Milo?evi?'s rule for special operations in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, as well as for the elimination of Milo?evi?'s political opponents.
It was Ulemek who ordered Zvezdan Jovanovi? to carry out the assassination. Ulemek was connected to the powerful Zemun Clan of the Serbian mafia and had been recently sentenced to 40 years in jail for other offences that included murder and attempted murder.
The assassin, Zvezdan Jovanovi?, was born in 1965 in a village near the town of Pe?, Yugoslavia. Jovanovi? was a lieutenant colonel in the JSO. Jovanovi? stated that he killed ?in?i? because he saw him as a traitor to Serbia.
At 12:25 Central European Time, ?in?i? was fatally wounded by a gunshot while entering the Serbian government building where he was supposed to meet Foreign Minister of Sweden, Anna Lindh, and her colleague Jan O. Karlsson. The high-powered bullet with which he was shot penetrated his heart and killed him almost instantly. According to the official government statement, ?in?i? was not conscious and did not have a pulse upon arriving at the emergency ward. His bodyguard, Milan Veruovi?, was also seriously wounded in the stomach by another shot.
Zvezdan Jovanovi? was arrested in March 2003 and was charged with ?in?i?'s murder. He was silent during most of his trial but, allegedly, once he confessed to the murder of ?in?i?, he said in a police report that he felt no remorse for killing him.
Aleksandar Simovi?, one of the co-conspirators, was arrested in Belgrade on 23 November 2006.
The trial which lasted over four years, was marked with great political pressure, life threats to the Chamber members and cooperative witnesses. Also, several witnesses were murdered during the trial.
On 23 May 2007, the Belgrade Special Court for Organised Crime found Simovi? and eleven other men - Milorad Ulemek, Zvezdan Jovanovi?, Dejan Milenkovi?, Vladimir Milisavljevi?, Sretko Kalini?, Ninoslav Konstantinovi?, Milan Juri?i?, Du?an Krsmanovi?, ?eljko Tojaga, Sa?a Pejakovi? and Branislav Bezarevi? - guilty for the premeditated murder of Zoran ?in?i?.
In September 2014, journalist Nikola Vrzi? and Milan Veruovi?, personal bodyguard of Zoran ?in?i?, who was also severely injured but survived, published a book The Third Bullet (Serbian: Tre?i metak). The name of the book comes from the claim that ?in?i? was shot by the second sniper, unlike what the official version says. The authors claim that indictment (and later trial verdict) is not based not on the physical evidences nor eyewitness testimonies, but constructed on unsustainable expertise and carefully built network of confessions and testimonies of cooperative witnesses.
To discover the political background of the assassination, the authors returned to analyzing ?in?i?'s political activities over the period of several months before his death, indicating that ?in?i? started to strive much more for the national interests of Serbia (e.g. resolving the status of Kosovo and Metohija, fearing that the western countries are under wraps working on its independence), seeking from his western partners to appreciate these national interests of Serbia, but was encountered with strong refusal.