Source AP ©

Verdicts in trial of Zoran Djindjic assassination to be announced May 23

Verdicts in the trial of 13 Serbian paramilitaries and gang figures indicted in the assassination of Serbia prime minister, Zoran Djindjic, will be announced May 23.

Chief judge Nata Mesarevic announced the date as the 3Ѕ-year trial ended Friday with the accused sniper, Zvezdan Jovanovic, denying he shot Djindjic in March 2003 in front of Belgrade government headquarters.

The prosecution and lawyers representing Djindjic's family have demanded maximum 40-year prison sentences for his suspected killers. The sentences will also be announced on May 23.

All but one of the suspects most of them war veterans from the era of former President Slobodan Milosevic have denied they organized and carried out the assassination. Five of the 13 suspects were being tried in absentia because they went into hiding after the killing.

Djindjic spearheaded the 2000 removal of Milosevic and later extradited him to the U.N. war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to answer for his role in the 1990s wars during the breakup of the Yugoslav federation.

The indictment against Djindjic's alleged killers says they carried out the attack to halt pro-Western reforms and bring nationalists back to power.

The trial has been delayed by bureaucratic and legal wrangling between lawyers and the prosecution, and apparent attempts by the current conservative government to influence the trial proceedings.

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