[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 March, 2003, 18:14 GMT
Djindjic arrests exceed 1,000
Document check in central Belgrade
The Serbian authorities are in the midst of a massive crackdown
Serbian authorities say more than 1,000 people have been arrested in connection with the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.

The government also says Serbia's deputy prosecutor, Milan Saraljic - who was arrested on Wednesday - has confessed to links with a criminal gang blamed for the killing.

Officials said Mr Sarajlic admitted to obstructing legal proceedings against mafia bosses, and undermining investigations into assassinations of prominent Serbian figures in recent years.

"Milan Sarajlic exerted pressure and lobbied within the judiciary," the government said in a statement said on Thursday.

The statement added that Mr Sarajlic was recently paid $150,000 for information about a protected witness.

More arrests expected

Mr Sarajlic's arrest, as well as forced retirement of 35 judges, was part of a major purge of Serbia's judiciary.

Milan Sarajlic
Sarajlic allegedly blocked legal proceedings against mafia bosses
On Thursday the head of Serbia's Supreme Court, Leposava Karamarkovic, announced she was standing down under "political and media pressure".

However, despite all efforts, the prime suspects for Mr Djindjic's killing - who include former paramilitary commander Milorad Lukovic- remain at large.

A government official said there would more arrests "in the next few days".

"There still exist remnants of [former President] Slobodan Milosevic's regime," he added.

Clan blamed

Mr Djindjic, Serbia's leading pro-Western politician, was killed by a gunman as he stepped out of an armoured car in Belgrade last week.

Authorities blamed the killing on the Zemun Clan - a crime network with alleged links to supporters of Mr Milosevic.

A state of emergency has been imposed.

Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic has said police knew the identities of two of the three people who carried out the assassination.

A photograph of the third man was published in several newspapers on Wednesday.

Under Serbia's law on emergency powers, people can be held for 30 days without charge, and without access to lawyers.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific