Judge in Djindjic trial a gangster, claim lawyers

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The Independent Online

Defence lawyers in the trial of suspects in the assassination of Zoran Djindjic, the Serbian Prime Minister, filed criminal charges yesterday against the trial's presiding judge, accusing him of being a member of an underworld gang.

The lawyers accused Marko Kljajevic, the head of the three-judge panel, of being a member of a Belgrade gang rival to the Zemun Clan, the underworld group the suspects allegedly belong to. They argued the judge should be suspended.

In the trial, which resumed yesterday after being adjourned in December, 36 suspects are accused of direct and indirect involvement with the slaying of Mr Djindjic on 12 March.

The defence lawyers accusing Judge Kljajevic of being unfit to hear the trial cited newspapers reports published in December about permits Judge Kljajevic allegedly obtained through a court to promote a business deal of the wife of the rival gang leader. Miroslav Todorovic, the defence lawyer, said: "You have ... disgraced the entire Serbian judiciary."

The court adjourned until today.

Meanwhile, Rajko Danilovic, the Belgrade lawyer who represents Mr Djindjic's widow, said the defence was "consistently disrupting and hindering proceedings".