Serbian lawyers go on strike to protest slaying of colleague

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Lawyers in Serbia declared a weeklong strike Sunday to protest the killing of a prominent attorney who was on the legal team that defended former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.

Dragoslav Ognjanovic, 56, was gunned down late Saturday outside his home in the new part of Belgrade, the Serbian capital, police said. Ognjanovic’s 26-year-old son was wounded in the arm during the shooting, police said in a statement.

Police said they were searching “intensively” for the killer. Serbian media reported that police sealed off the area near the home Saturday night and blocked exits from the city. The search continued Sunday.

Ognjanovic was part of the legal team that defended Milosevic at the U.N. tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, where Milosevic was tried for war crimes committed during the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Milosevic died of a heart attack in 2006 before the end of the court proceedings.

Ognjanovic has also defended well-known crime figures in Serbia. Serbian media said his killing might have been the latest in a series of Mafia-style executions that took place amid an ongoing war among criminal gangs in Serbia and in neighboring Montenegro.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Sunday that police have “certain leads” in the investigation. Vucic added that the state would step up pressure to curb crime.

“The clan war over the drug market is becoming something that the state must deal with in a more brutal way,” Vucic said, according to news channel N1.

The Bar Association of Serbia said Ognjanovic’s slaying “showed in a most drastic way the circumstances in which lawyers in Serbia conduct their professional work.”

“This killing is only the latest in a series of attacks on lawyers, many of which have remained unsolved,” the statement said, urging Serbian authorities to use “all possible resources” to find the killer.

The lawyers’ protest strike starts Monday. The association also said it would offer a reward for information on Ognjanovic’s killing.