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The BBC's Jacky Rowland
"Eye witnesses said he was approached by two or three attackers"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 26 April, 2000, 18:39 GMT 19:39 UK
Airlines chief killing was 'terrorist' act
Scene of crime
As in previous killings, Petrovic was gunned down in the street
The killing of the director of the Yugoslav state airlines JAT was a "terrorist act", police in Belgrade said.

Zivorad Petrovic was shot in Belgrade street on Tuesday evening, as he walked his dog near his home.

"Undoubtedly, it is a terrorist act against a high-ranking business executive of Yugoslavia," said a police statement.

Zivorad Petrovic
Petrovic was an ally of President Milosevic

The leader of the largest opposition party, Vuk Draskovic, called for action and said he himself was the target of an assassination attempt last October by "elements of the Serbian regime".

Another opposition leader said Serbia's interior minister, Vlajko Stojiljkovic, who has failed to control a spate of unsolved, high-profile killings, should resign.

"It's absurd that there have never been more policemen in Serbia and never so little security," said Nebojsa Covic, the leader of Democratic Alternative.

He said that Mr Stojiljkovic and "all others responsible for security in Serbia" should go.

'Nato target'

In an official statement the authorities said the assassination was a criminal act aimed at destabilizing Serbia.

HIGH PROFILE KILLINGS
March - Zoran Davidovic and Ivan Stojanovic, Belgrade underworld figures
March - Branislav Lainovic, former Serb paramilitary
February - Radoslav Trlajic and Mirko Tomic, Belgrade mobsters
February - Defence Minister Pavle Bulatovic
January - Zeljko Raznjatovic, Arkan, Serb paramilitary
April 1999 - Slavko Curuvija, independent journalist

Serbia's justice minister said foreign powers were behind the killing.

The neo-communist JUL party of President Slobodan Milosevic's wife, Mira Markovic, went even further, saying he was targeted by Nato countries which "cowardly bombed our country" a year ago.

Reporters at the scene on Tuesday saw the body face down in a pool of blood, shot at least once in the head.

TV Politika, which is close to President Milosevic's regime, said Mr Petrovic had been shot "probably with an automatic weapon of the Skorpion type".

The TV station added that police had found "several cartridge cases" at the scene of the crime.

Lawlessness

The killing comes amid increasing lawlessness in the country and alleged murky business links involving government officials, the underworld and police.

Like many members of Serbian business elite, the 62-year-old Mr Petrovic was a member of JUL.

He was not prominent in the party, but was known as a friend of the Milosevic family.

"Money was not the motive for the killing," said Serbia's government minister, Slobodan Cerovic.

Zivorad Petrovic, JAT's director since 1992, had recently announced privatization of the airline and modernization of its fleet.

JAT has been in dire financial trouble for years because of international sanctions and flight bans imposed by Western countries against the national carrier.

His death is the latest in a series of high-profile killings here in recent years.

Yugoslav Defense Minister Pavle Bulatovic was gunned down in a restaurant in February.

Weeks earlier, Serbia's notorious warlord Zeljko Raznatovic, also known as Arkan, was shot in a Belgrade hotel.

In previous, similar gangland-style slayings almost two dozen policemen, journalists, politicians and underworld figures have died.

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08 Feb 00 | Europe
Belgrade in terror crackdown
08 Feb 00 | Europe
Riddle of a murdered minister
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