Jill Dando was murdered by a Serbian hitman

March 3rd, 20129:35 am @

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  • Serbian widow claims BBC presenter was killed by same hit man who assassinated her husband
  • Serbian TV presenter Slavko Curuvija shot dead 15 days before Dando’s death in April 1999

By
Mario Ledwith

Last updated at 9:06 AM on 3rd March 2012

Murdered: Jill Dando was gunned down on the doorstep by a Serbian hitman, it was claimed last night

Murdered: Jill Dando was gunned down on the doorstep by a Serbian hitman, it was claimed last night

BBC presenter Jill Dando was one of two journalists ‘executed’ by a Serbian hit man in a revenge attack, it was claimed last night.

The allegation was made by a Serbian widow whose husband was killed in similar circumstances just 15 days before Miss Dando’s murder in April 1999.

Branka Prpa said she was convinced that her husband and the former Crimewatch presenter were targeted by the same killer after insulting Slobodan Milosevic’s brutal regime.

Her husband Slavko Curuvija was also a TV presenter, and an outspoken critic of the dictator. He was shot in the head outside his Belgrade home.

According to historian Miss Prpa, Miss Dando’s appearance in a BBC appeal on behalf of Kosovan-Albanian refugees made her a target for the hit man.

She said: ‘I think there is a link between Dando and Curuvija. I think they were both executed.

‘There were a whole range of people defined by the regime as political enemies who were assassinated at the beginning of the war.

‘They would simply kill you and walk away. When you look at this timeline of killing it is quite clear that it is part of the same context.’

The widow pointed to a range of similarities between Miss Dando’s murder outside her West London home on April 11, 1999, and that of her husband.

Both were high-profile journalists who were returning home when they were assaulted, then shot in the head.

Rumours have flourished throughout the past decade that a contract killer, possibly hired due to Britain’s role in the Serbian conflict, was behind the Crimewatch star’s ruthless killing.

But instead police focussed their investigation on Barry George, the loner who lived near Ms Dando’s home in Fulham, west London, and who seemed obsessed with guns.

He was convicted of her murder in 2001 and jailed for life – before being freed on appeal in 2008.

At his first trial, Mr George’s barrister, Michael Mansfield, QC, contended that one possible motive for the killing was a Serbian death squad taking revenge for the bombing of a Belgrade television station.

Mr Mansfield produced a National
Criminal Intelligence Service report which said that after the bombing,
the Serbian warlord Arkan put out a contract on Sir John Birt, then BBC
director-general.

When Sir John’s security was stepped up, the target was supposedly changed to Miss Dando.

Following Mr George’s acquittal,
police were investigating information that a British petty criminal of
Serbian descent boasted of the killing.

His alleged confession is said to
have taken place during a drinking session in the Serbian capital in
September 2001.

Haunting: A CCTV image of Jill Dando shopping just 40 minutes before she gunned down outside her home

Haunting: A CCTV image of Jill Dando shopping just 40 minutes before she gunned down outside her home

Barry George is driven away from the Old Bailey with his clinical psychologist Dr Susan Young after being acquitted of murdering Dando

Barry George is driven away from the Old Bailey with his clinical psychologist Dr Susan Young after being acquitted of murdering Dando

Murder scene: Police officers cordon off Jill Dando's road in Fulham, south London, following the shooting in April 1999

Murder scene: Police officers cordon off Jill Dando’s road in Fulham, south London, following the shooting in April 1999

The petty criminal, thought to have been from the West Midlands but of Serbian descent, was said to have confessed to the killing in front of ten people at a bar in Belgrade.

A British businessman who witnessed the apparent confession told a Sunday newspaper after the 2001 claim: ‘He took a bow because he claimed he had something to do with it.

‘He stood up and his friends applauded him strenuously. He claimed it was in retaliation over some Serbian TV star singer that was killed in the bombings.’

Detectives investigated the apparent confession and interviewed witnesses present at the drinking session, but no one has since been charged with the murder.

Regime: Serbian widow Branka Prpa claimed Jill Dando was killed after insulting the brutal regime of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who died in March 2006

Regime: Serbian widow Branka Prpa claimed Jill Dando was killed after insulting the brutal regime of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who died in March 2006

In 2009 it emerged that an anonymous caller had phoned the BBC after Ms Dando’s killing claiming he had killed the presenter over Nato action in the former Yugoslavia.

The caller was also said to have told the then BBC head of news that he was next on the hit man’s list.

The details emerged from a board of governors’ meeting held days after the Crimewatch presenter’s still-unsolved murder.

Head of news Tony Hall told the governors how he had been phoned with news of the attack while attending a Broadcasting House meeting with then Director-General John Birt and other BBC chiefs.

He immediately rushed to Television Centre in White City, West London, where he called Mr Birt to say Ms Dando had died.

At some point that day or later the mystery caller phoned Mr Hall claiming responsibility for the shooting.

Here’s what other readers have said. Why not add your thoughts,
or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Not sure about this. If it were so why didnt the’ regime’ make’ it known at the time to prove a point and a warning? Or why didnt this woman speak up before now?
– Kev the Cynic, East Riding of Yorkshire, 03/3/2012 07:38
I may be wrong but haven’t they only recently caught Ratko Mladic ? Maybe she was worried that whilst he was still around she would be a target.

It always looked like a political cover up, look who was in power in our country at that time.

Bring back the death penalty!!!!!!!
– Steve, Bristol, 03/3/2012 08:02
-this story above many others does not support your view. If we had the death penalty Barry George – an innocent man – would be dead. There is no room for a death penalty whilst innocent people are still going to prison because god forbid one of your family members is wrong accused and found guilty.

Unbelievable the police are cobbling together some case against the local loon rather than telling the truth – they couldn’t find the killer.
– mortdecai, Edinburgh, 03/3/2012 08:07
being a bit of a loner does not make him a loon

I thought it was only the police who thought it was anyone but the Serbians. Nobody thought it was the local eccentric apart from the police and all of the evidence suggested a professional hit.
The Met have always been hopeless. Always better to go for those who struggle to fight back rather than real villains.

I feel so sorry for the man they accused, always blame someone with mental health problems. What people dont realise is people with mental health problems are the least llikely to hurt anyone, its only a very small fraction that do and that is normally if they are very, very ill. I never believed for one minute that he had killed her it was just too easy pickings for the police it was obvious from the start that the murderer was someone very clever.

it was obvious from the start that mr george .was not the killer but was made to fit ,like the poor man in who was in prison for yrsn for killing a girl in a cemetary ,a crime he never commited.i think evidence was witheld in this case,,in both cases the men slightly below average ..inteligence just the sort of suspects the police like,,,and the sad thing is the policemen in both cases and many others will now be enjoying a happy well paid retirerment.

Politicians are frightened by political assassinations and they will always cover them up as it creates a bad precedent. Not a word will be said even if they suspected who did it.

The possibility of a Serbian link to Miss Dando’s death was first raised in the trial of Barry George.
He was convicted of her murder in 2001 and jailed for life – before being freed on appeal in 2008.’
The ‘possibility’ was raised much earlier than that! It was talked about within days of Ms Dando’s murder. I wonder who first mooted that idea? Her killing did have all the hallmarks of a professional hit……..but not by the Serbs. She was an investigative journalist…..I wonder what she was working on before she was murdered? She worked on Crimewatch….so some sort of crime in the UK I would have thought

reading the comments so far, how sad and predictable, incompetent policing ?, obvious it was someone else?, of course it was a political assassination?…..The police did their job, they investigated and found a possible suspect with a possible motive and no credible alibi, that lazy and incompetent policing took thousands of hours of research and witness questioning ; the assembled evidence along with additional forensics was put before a jury and a judge who found him guilty beyond all reasonable doubt……now years later….YEARS LATER people come forward with other possible suspects…..are you really so gullible?

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