Attackers drug sister of murdered Serb leader

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The Independent Online

Two men attacked the sister of the assassinated Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic, an investigating judge said yesterday.



Two men attacked the sister of the assassinated Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic, an investigating judge said yesterday.

Two unidentified men burst into the house of Gordana Djindjic-Filipovic, at about 10pm on Saturday and injured her with a "sharp object in the arm" said Judge Dragan Obradovic.

The authorities were treating the incident as possibly "attempted murder", he said.

The victim described her attackers as two black-clad men, one of whom was wearing a motorcycle helmet. The Interior Ministry said the men demanded a "certain list that she knew nothing about" and then forcefully injected her with a substance that caused her to collapse.

Her husband found her unconscious on the floor of the family home near Valjevo in western Serbia. She was taken to hospital in Belgrade where she was in a stable condition.

"She received an injury that resembles an injection," said Zoran Stankovic, the head of the Belgrade Military Medical Academy. She was conscious on arrival, but scared, Dr Stankovic said. Results of a toxicology test will be known today and she is expected to remain in hospital for several days.

The attack came two weeks after the man accused of masterminding the assassination of Zoran Djindjic, Milorad "Legija" Lukovic, surrendered. The assailants are said to have told Mrs Djindjic-Filipovicr that it was "only a warning" and that "if Legija is convicted, the whole Djindjic family will be killed".

A few days before the attack, Mrs Djindjic-Filipovicr and her mother, Mila, received anonymous phone threats. They were told to "stop prosecuting" Mr Lukovic. Both women are outspoken in their demands for swift justice against the killers.

Mila Djindjic's house in the town of Prokuplje, 175 miles south of Belgrade, has been the target of burglaries.

Zoran Djindjic died from a sniper's bullet in March 2003. Mr Lukovic headed the Special Operations Units (JSO) of the ousted leader Slobodan Milosevic, which was notorious for war crimes against non-Serbs in the conflicts that tore apart the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

The late prime minister was pivotal in the overthrow of Mr Milosevic in 2000, and of his subsequent extradition to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

The accused assassins of Mr Djindjic are being tried in Belgrade, where Mr Lukovic is to appear for the first time on 10 June. It remains unclear where he spent more than a year in hiding and what prompted his sudden surrender.

The Djindjics' lawyer demanded police protection for Mila and Gordana and the government of Vojislav Kostunica promised they would get it. "The state will deal with those threats in the most decisive manner and provide full protection for the family of the slain prime minister," Mr Kostunica said in a recent interview.

For months now, Serbia has seen an ominous return of the values of the Milosevic era. Mr Kostunica owes the stability of his minority government to the support of Mr Milosevic's Socialists. The first moves of Mr Kostunica's government were the introduction of financial support to war crimes defendants in The Hague and the abolition of Mr Djindjic's ambitious education reform.

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