A top intelligence official under former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was found guilty Thursday of planning to assassinate one of Milosevic's rivals and was sentenced to seven years in prison. Two aides drew 15-year prison terms for murder.
The verdicts and sentences were issued in a Belgrade court after more than seven months of proceedings against former secret service chief Radomir Rade Markovic and two of his agents, Nenad Bujosevic and Nenad Ilic.
Markovic was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder for an attack on former opposition leader Vuk Draskovic. The aides were convicted of killing four of Draskovic's top associates.
Draskovic survived an orchestrated car crash involving his vehicle and an armored truck Oct. 3, 1999. The court ruled that Markovic knew of the plot and that Bujosevic and Ilic drove the truck.
Markovic's lawyer, Dusan Masic, described the sentence as "shameful" and said his client would appeal.
Draskovic, who had been demanding life imprisonment for Markovic and the others, described the sentences as "a crime against the victims."
Opponents allege that Markovic was involved in the assassinations of other Milosevic opponents, including the 1999 slaying of Slavko Curuvija, an independent newspaper publisher.
He is also suspected in the 2000 abduction of former Serbian President Ivan Stambolic, who remains missing. Markovic has not been charged in any of those crimes.
Markovic was Milosevic's secret service chief in 1998, after serving as Serbia's deputy interior minister for public security. Before that, he was head of Belgrade's police department.
He initially survived the popular uprising that unseated Milosevic in October 2000, retaining his position for months after Vojislav Kostunica was elected president of Yugoslavia, which now consists of only Serbia and Montenegro. Markovic was arrested in February 2001.
After a separate trial, Markovic served a one-year prison term for destroying secret documents.