BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia's top state prosecutor charged four former state security officers on Friday over the 1999 killing of opposition newspaper publisher and journalist Slavko Curuvija during the rule of late strongman president Slobodan Milosevic.
Critics in Serbia have long held Milosevic's dreaded security service and his inner circle responsible for the shooting of Curuvija outside his Belgrade flat. However, no one was charged for the killing until now.
Miljko Radisavljevic, Serbia's chief prosecutor for organized crime, told the official Tanjug news agency that the four men were indicted for "aggravated murder". He was not available for immediate comment.
The four are Radomir Markovic, the former head of Serbia's then-Department of State Security, his aides Ratko Romic and Milan Radonjic, and field operative Miroslav Kurak. They are charged with planning and executing Curuvija's murder, Tanjug quoted Radisavljevic as saying.
Markovic is already serving a 40-year jail term over his role in a 1999 attempt to assassinate opposition leader Vuk Draskovic, in which four other people died.
Romic and Radonjic have been in detention since January while Kurak remains at large.
"The indictment is now being verified (by the court) and provided we pass that ... we will have the date for the trial within 30 days," Radisavljevic said.
Lawyers for Markovic, Romic and Radonjic were not available for comment. The three men have previously denied any wrongdoing.
Curuvija was gunned down on Orthodox Easter 1999, during NATO's air war against Serbia launched over its military crackdown on independence-seeking Albanians in its then-province of Kosovo.
Milosevic was extradited in 2001 to the International war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia in The Hague, where he died in 2006 before a trial verdict was reached.
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Mark Heinrich)