Serbian ex-security men held over Milosevic-era killing of journalist

BELGRADE Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:13am EST

BELGRADE Jan 14 (Reuters) - Two former Serbian state security agents were detained on Tuesday over the killing of opposition newspaper publisher and journalist Slavko Curuvija during the rule of strongman president Slobodan Milosevic in 1999, local media said.

The arrests continued a series of investigations, led by the deputy prime minister, into politically-tinged, violent or financial crimes as Serbia seeks to improve its democratic credentials for eventual entryinto the European Union.

Belgrade's B92 television reported that the two detained ex-security agents were taken to the capital's main police station for further questioning. There was no immediate official comment but a news conference was planned shortly.

Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Vucic, who also coordinates Serbian security agencies, was once a firebrand of the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party and was Milosevic's information minister at the time of Curuvija's killing.

Vucic was also considered the architect of a harsh Information Law Milosevic's government used to crack down on opposition and independent media. But Vucic has since rebranded himself a reformer keen to help guide Serbia into the EU.

Critics have long held Milosevic's harsh security apparatus and his inner circle responsible for the murder of Curuvija outside his Belgrade flat on Orthodox Easter 1999 while Serbia and NATO waged war over the southern province of Kosovo. But no one was ever charged with the crime.

Milosevic fell to a popular uprising in 2000 and was extradited the following year to The Hague for trial before the international war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia. He died in 2006 before his trial could be completed. (Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Aleksandar Vasovic and Mark Heinrich)