Four former intelligence officers had been given lengthy prison terms over the killing of Curuvija, a prominent critic of Yugoslavia’s president at the time, Slobodan Milosevic.
In a ruling handed down on July 15 but only reported this week, the court cited „significant violations of the provisions of criminal procedure.“ It reportedly concluded that the convictions from April 2019 went beyond the indictment and were not based on evidence.
Two of the men, Rade Markovic, the former head of state security, and Milan Radonjic, who was in charge of Belgrade’s intelligence branch, received 30-year prison sentences each for instigating the murder. Markovic is already serving a 40-year sentence for other political killings.
The court also handed 20-year prison terms to former intelligence officers Ratko Romic and fugitive Miroslav Kurak, who was sentenced in absentia. They were convicted of carrying out the murder.
Curuvija founded the Dnevni Telegraf, the first independent daily newspaper in postcommunist Serbia in the 1990s.
He stood out as a sharp critic of Milosevic, who involved Serbia in wars in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo during his heavy-handed 12-year rule.
Curuvija was gunned down outside his home in Belgrade on April 11, 1999, just days after the start of NATO’s bombing campaign that helped end Belgrade’s military operations against ethnic Albanians in its then-province Kosovo.
Curuvija’s family has accused Milosevic of personally ordering the killing.
Milosevic was arrested in 2001 and held at the UN court in The Hague for genocide and other war crimes committed during the wars that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
The former Serbian president died in the tribunal’s detention unit in 2006 before a verdict was reached.