Spain court approves extradition of killer of Serb PM

Spain's National Court said Wednesday it had approved the extradition to Serbia of one of the men convicted of killing then Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003.

Vladimir Milisavljevic, known in Serbia as Budala (The Bastard), was sentenced in absentia in 2007 to 35 years in prison for his role, along with other members of the Serbian criminal Zemun Clan, in the shooting of Djindjic in Belgrade.

Spain's top criminal court agreed to the extradition in a decision dated December 20 and published Wednesday.

Citing information from the Serbian courts, it said Milisavljevic had driven the getaway car for two people who carried out the killing.

The ruling stipulated that Serbia must give Milisavljevic a trial if he requests it because the original sentence was handed down in his absence.

He has three days to appeal against the ruling.

Before his extradition, Milisavljevic must first serve his sentence for any criminal cases in Spain, where he is accused of various crimes including murder and illegal possession of weapons, the court added.

Serbia has been seeking his extradition since March.

After years on the run, Milisavljevic was arrested in February last year in a restaurant in the eastern Spanish city of Valencia, along with suspected Serb criminal gang leader Luka Bojovic and two Serbian hitmen.

Bojovic is wanted for 20 killings in Serbia, Spain and the Netherlands as well as for trafficking in people, drugs and arms, but is not wanted in connection with Djindjic's killing.

Spanish police say both Milisavljevic and Bojovic were members of the paramilitary group Arkan's Tigers, known for its cruelty during the Balkan wars. The group later transformed into the Serbian mafia Zemun Clan.

Milisavljevic was found guilty in 2007 along with 11 others of taking part in the killing of Djindjic, 50, which disrupted the country's recovery from the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

The pro-Western reforming prime minister was gunned down in Belgrade in 2003, two years after taking office following the ousting of Slobodan Milosevic.

Djindjic was credited with striving to bring the country closer to the West after Milosevic was ousted.

In 2007 former police commando leader Milorad Ulemek was jailed for organising the assassination and Zvezdan "The Snake" Jovanovic was jailed for firing the fatal shot.

Bojovic, aged 39 according to the Spanish police, rose to head the Zemun gang after other members were convicted for the killing.

Bojovic was arrested in October 2007, suspected of links to those involved in Djindjic's murder, but later released for a lack of evidence.

He was indicted separately for illegal possession of arms and sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2009 but fled before serving his sentence.

Serbia's Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said at the time of the arrests that the Zemun Clan had "almost ceased to exist".

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