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Serbian Military sticks to its Version of Army Killings

Djordje Trifunovic, who heads Serbia and Montenegro's Military Court, told the Belgrade daily "Politika" of 19 November that the fatal 5 October shootings of conscripts Dragan Jakovljevic and Drazen Milovanovic near Belgrade's Topcider military complex was the result of a violent quarrel between the two young men.

Trifunovic noted that he cannot "absolutely rule out" the possible involvement of a third party, adding, however, that "there was not one single piece of material evidence on the scene...to support that thesis."

He criticized the government's decision in October to set up an Independent Commission before the Military Court released its findings.

It is unclear why it took the military almost six weeks to provide a detailed description of the two soldiers' fight, or who witnessed the quarrel.

Elsewhere, Defense Minister Prvoslav Davinic said that the Topcider killings had "nothing to do with the alleged hiding of Hague [war crimes tribunal] indictees [because the Army] does not hide war crimes suspects." Serbia and Montenegro's Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic, several other leading politicians, and much of the media has charged that the two conscripts might have been shot after they saw someone they were not supposed to see at the facility, such as former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic.

(RFE/RL 19.xi.04)

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