October 25, 1997 in Nation/World

Senior Yugoslav Official Shot In Mob-Style Killing

Tracy Wilkinson Los Angeles Times

A senior Yugoslav official and close associate of Slobodan Milose vic’s powerful wife was shot to death execution-style Friday in a busy Belgrade suburb, police said.

It was the third killing this year to touch the inner circle of the Yugoslav president’s family.

Zoran Todorovic, a wealthy businessman who headed Yugoslavia’s second-largest oil company, was shot to death as he stepped from his Audi outside the company’s headquarters in the capital, radio reports in Belgrade said. Todorovic was secretary-general of the Yugoslav United Left, the neo-Communist political party founded by Milosevic’s wife, Mirjana Markovic.

Considered a leftist hard-liner, Todorovic, 38, who at times attacked the notion of multiparty democracy, was probably Markovic’s closest confidant. The United Left is a member of the ruling coalition led by Milosevic’s Socialist Party.

Possible motives for the killing ranged from politics to business ivalry, in a country where well-connected gangs control most trade and commerce.

“The shot at our comrade is a shot at our nation,” the United Left said in a statement. “It is a shot at peace, freedom and dignity … and an attempt to destabilize our homeland.”

Todorovic’s bodyguard was wounded in the shooting.

In April, one of Milosevic’s most trusted aides and head of his dreaded security apparatus, Radovan Stojicic, was shot to death in a similar gangland-type slaying as he sat in a restaurant in downtown Belgrade.

“If (Stojicic’s) killing brought death to the doorstep of the Milosevic home, today’s murder reaches at least into the living room,” Dragoljub Zarkovic, editor of the Vreme newsmagazine, said.

Unlike Todorovic, Stojicic was involved heavily in Yugoslavia’s wartime role in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. At Milosevic’s behest, Stojicic armed ethnic Serbs and fought with a brutal paramilitary squad. In theory, Stojicic could have implicated Milosevic in war crimes, another possible motive to his slaying.

Todorovic, however, had no known role in the warfare. Regarded as one of the richest men in Yugoslavia, he owed his prosperity to the political clout he gained as Markovic’s friend.

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