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World affairs correspondent James Robbins
He lived by the gun and died by the gun
 real 28k

The BBC's Jim Fish
To meet Arkan face to face was a chilling experience
 real 28k

Saturday, 15 January, 2000, 23:22 GMT
Serbian warlord shot dead

Arkan with his soldiers in Bosnia in 1992


The Serbian paramilitary leader Zeljko Raznatovic, better known as Arkan, has been gunned down at Belgrade's Intercontinental hotel.

He was shot in the left eye and died in hospital about two hours after the attack.

One of his bodyguards, Momcilo Mandic, died at the scene. Another person died in hospital, medical sources said.



Arkan lived violently so it is no surprise he died violently
Robin Cook

Reports said a lone masked gunman carried out the killing and escaped. However some witnesses said there had been a group of attackers.

Police sealed off the area around the Intercontinental hotel. No arrests have been reported.

BBC Belgrade correspondent Jacky Rowland says the attack appeared to have been well planned.

War crimes charges

The UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said he regretted that Arkan's death prevented the paramilitary leader going on trial for war crimes.


Police sealed off Belgrade's Hotel Intercontinental

Arkan had been indicted for atrocities committed during the Bosnian war by the UN's international criminal tribunal for former Yugoslavia.

"Arkan lived violently so it is therefore no surprise that he died violently," Mr Cook said.

"He and his followers were in the frontline of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo, enriching themselves whilst they persecuted the defenceless."

The war in Kosovo
Arkan led the notorious Tigers, who were part of the Serb Volunteer Force operating in Bosnia and Croatia.

The Tigers are alleged to have committed atrocities in Kosovo last year, but Arkan has denied this.

Political or criminal motive



Someone is pulling the strings
Opposition member

Correspondents say the killing appears to have been the work of Arkan's gangland enemies.

Reputedly one of Serbia's richest men, Arkan was a powerful figure in the Serbian underworld and was believed to have amassed wealth from war profiteering.

He was also wanted for bank robberies in western Europe in the 1970s and 1980s.


Arkan (right) and President Milosevic: Close relationship

However a political motive cannot be ruled out.

Arkan was an extreme nationalist who had long been closely associated with the Belgrade regime, and he certainly had political enemies among the opposition.

He may also have fallen out of favour with elements of the Serbian leadership.

'Knew a lot'

"Someone who knew a lot and took part in many things was killed," Goran Svilanovic, of the moderate opposition party Civic Alliance, said.

He added that Arkan had been "close to the authorities, or so it seemed".



Arkan could have provided crucial evidence against Slobodan Milosevic
Bosnian Muslim adviser

Another Civic Alliance member, Vladan Batic, said: "Someone is pulling the strings and decided who's going to be next."

Politically motivated murders in Serbia, although not as common as underworld 'hits', do occur from time to time.

In the past year, an anti-government journalist and a top security official have been gunned down, while prominent opposition leader, Vuk Draskovic, said a car crash he survived had been hatched by the authorities.

Mirza Hajric, adviser to Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic told Reuters news agency that Arkan "could have provided crucial evidence on [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic's involvement in war crimes in Bosnia".

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See also:
15 Jan 00 |  Europe
Gangster's life of Serb warlord
15 Jan 00 |  Europe
Mourners remember Racak dead

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