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Serb Aide Says CIA Behind Slaying

June 6, 2000

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ A top aide to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on Tuesday claimed that the CIA was behind the slaying of an adviser to Montenegro’s pro-Western president. U.S. officials called the charge absurd.

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic is at odds with Milosevic’s government over economic and political issues. Montenegro and Serbia make up Yugoslavia.

Some officials in Montenegro have accused Yugoslav authorities of complicity in the killing of National Security Adviser Goran Zugic a week ago. Zugic was one of Djukanovic closest associates.

Yugoslav Information Minister Goran Matic, who has repeatedly accused Western governments of plotting against Yugoslavia, said Zugic was killed so the CIA could blame Milosevic’s authorities for the murder.

To back up his claims, Matic offered reporters what he said was a transcript and a sound clip of telephone conversations between two Americans working in the region.

There was no was to verify the authenticity of the Matic’s claims. Without mentioning the Zugic killing, the speakers in the clips spoke of ″ ... it was professional ...″ and ″ ... mission accomplished.″

U.S. and Montenegrin officials dismissed Matic’s charges as ridiculous.

``That is nonsense,″ commented CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield in Washington.

Echoing that reaction, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker called Matic’s alleged evidence ``absurd, completely false.″

Montenegrin Interior Minister Vukasin Maras called the taped transcript an ``unskillful setup.″

Maras said the accusation was an apparent attempt to discredit Montenegro’s leadership _ which maintains strong ties with the U.S. administration _ ahead of important municipal elections in the republic Sunday.

Zugic’s death marks the first slaying of a prominent Montenegrin official after a series of high-profile killings in Serbia.

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