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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 September, 2004, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
Djindjic suspect 'had no quarrel'
Milorad Lukovic (front right) at court
Lukovic (front right) is accused of masterminding the killing
A former Serbian paramilitary leader accused of hatching a plot to kill the country's prime minister has told a court he had no motive to murder him.

Milorad Lukovic, a special police chief under former leader Slobodan Milosevic, said he had "no quarrel" with Zoran Djindjic, shot dead in March 2003.

Mr Lukovic told a Belgrade court: "I was in good relations with Djindjic."

Prosecutors allege that Mr Lukovic conceived the plot because he feared extradition over alleged war crimes.

Mr Lukovic, also known as Legija, is the alleged leader of a gang of 13 men who have been charged in connection with the killing of Mr Djindjic.

The prime minister, who came to power after Mr Milosevic was ousted in 2000 and swiftly extradited him to the UN War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague, was shot by a sniper outside Belgrade's main government building.

In his testimony, Mr Lukovic contradicted the man alleged to have pulled the trigger, Zvezdan Jovanovic, who previously told the court that Mr Djindjic had been killed to prevent the extradition of several pro-Milosevic paramilitaries to The Hague.

Mr Lukovic, who is alleged to have links to Serbia's mafia underworld, was arrested earlier this year after a lengthy international manhunt.

He is also accused of assassinating the former Yugoslav president, Ivan Stambolic, in 2000 and of attempting to kill Vuk Draskovic, now the foreign minister of Serbia and Montenegro, in 1999.

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