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Body of missing Yugoslav judge found

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- A prominent Yugoslav judge who was involved in several high-profile political cases has been found dead, according to radio reports.

Judge Nebojsa Simeunovic, who disappeared in Belgrade a month ago, was found on Sunday, said Belgrade's B92 radio.

The station quoted Serbian police co-minister Stevan Nikcevic as saying the body was found near the junction of the Sava and Danube rivers in Belgrade.

Nikcevic said the judge was identified from documents on the body, adding that "so far we have no elements which indicate a violent death."

He said an official statement would be issued after an extensive investigation and forensic report.

Simeunovic disappeared weeks after refusing to issue an arrest warrant for two Yugoslav opposition leaders and 11 organisers of a miners' strike on the eve of a popular uprising that forced former president Slobodan Milosevic from power.

He was also investigating the murders of the head of uniformed police in Serbia, Radovan Stojicic-Badza, in 1997, and of federal Defence Minister Pavle Bulatovic last February.

Neither of the two cases has been solved.

Simeunovic was last seen on November 6 in a Belgrade restaurant, a month after new democratic leadership took power. He was reported missing on November 10.

The radio report said Simeunovic's body had been carried by the current to the bank of the Sava. It said it appeared the body had been in the water for some time.

The judge was the second figure to disappear in Belgrade in the last three months in cases with suspected political overtones.

On August 25, Ivan Stambolic, former president of Serbia and once pro-Milosevic, disappeared while jogging near his Belgrade home. He has not been seen since.

Milosevic's political foes and media have alleged that Serbia's state security was involved in Stambolic's disappearance. State security chief Rade Markovic denied any involvement.

Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
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December 2, 2000
Yugoslav tennis star pays ransom for son
December 1, 2000
'Yugoslavia is in danger,' claims Milosevic
November 25, 2000
Four politicians resign from Milosevic's party
November 18, 2000

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