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Yugoslav Basketball Star Dies

December 15, 2000

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Yugoslav basketball player Haris Brkic died Friday, three days after he was shot in the head following practice.

The 26-year-old Brkic was shot through his cheekbone and under an eye late Tuesday in front of a Belgrade arena after leaving a training session with his Partizan Belgrade club. His assailant fled, police said.

Doctors at the Belgrade emergency hospital said Brkic died after fighting for his life. He never regained consciousness.

Brkic, a Bosnian-born pivot player, was a part-time Yugoslav national player. He signed with Partizan after playing a season with the national champions, Buducnost Podgorica.

The motive for the attack was unclear. However, Belgrade media claimed that the assailant shot Brkic after the athlete found him trying to break into his car. Others believe he was killed by a paid assassin.

Violent crime has been on the rise in Yugoslavia, with several recent killings or kidnappings involving prominent public figures. But Brkic is the first prominent sportsman to be shot.

Next weekend’s games in the Yugoslav basketball league was postponed until Jan. 6.

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