Serbian activist charged with attempted murder

BELGRADE, Jul 1, 2000 -- (Reuters) A Serbian prosecutor has charged an opposition activist with the attempted murder of an associate of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's son, independent Beta news agency said on Friday.

Momcilo Veljkovic, an activist from the student-based Otpor movement and a member of the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement, was arrested on May 2 in Milosevic's home town of Pozarevac, along with two others after a fight with associates of Milosevic's powerful son Marko.

The activists said Marko's associates had beaten them up in a cafe in Pozarevac when they came to help another activist who was being harassed. Eyewitnesses said Veljkovic fought back.

Opposition media have been hit by a series of fines for their accounts of the incident, which shook the authorities.

Police prevented demonstrators and many journalists from reaching a rally called by the opposition in Pozarevac on May 9 to protest the alleged beatings. The opposition then cancelled the rally for fear of a clash with other locals.

A public prosecutor in Pozarevac, Jovo Stanojevic, resigned over the case and a deputy president of the Pozarevac court was relieved of his duties for participating in an opposition gathering in the town, 70 km (44 miles) east of Belgrade.

Members of Veljkovic's family said they were told the decision to charge him with attempted murder had been made on the basis of a written recommendation from the Serbian prosecutor, Beta said.

Charges of participation in the fight were filed against two other Otpor activists, Radojko Lukovic and Nebojsa Sokolovic, and employees of Marko Milosevic's discotheque "Madonna" - Sasa Lazic and Milan Lazic, it said.

Charges were dismissed against four others involved.

The Pozarevac district court decided on Friday to release Veljkovic, charged with attempted murder, and Lukovic, from detention pending trial, Beta said.

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