Six men convicted over murder of Ivo Pukanic in Croatia

Ivo Pukanic, file pic from March 2008 Before he was killed, Mr Pukanic ran a series of articles about organised crime

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A court in Croatia has convicted six men for the mafia-style murder of high-profile journalist Ivo Pukanic.

Mr Pukanic, the editor of Nacional magazine, was killed by a car bomb in October 2008, alongside his marketing manager, Niko Franjic.

The defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 15 to 40 years.

Mr Pukanic was known for investigations into corruption and crime at the highest levels of Croatian society.

The six men were "found guilty... of committing the criminal act of first degree murder and aiding in first degree murder," Judge Ivana Krsul said.

Mr Pukanic published frequent investigations into the criminal underworld of the western Balkans.

He was thought to have close links with some criminals himself, but it is widely believed he fell victim to an organised crime attack and was targeted for what he wrote.

Crime crackdown

A total of eight people - believed to have connections to organised crime groups - were indicted for the murder of Mr Pukanic in central Zagreb.

Robert Matanic (2nd L) and Slobodan Djurovic (5th L) sit between court policemen while waiting for the verdict The men were sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in prison

Three are currently on trial in neighbouring Serbia for the same crime, including one - Zeljko Milovanovic - who was indicted in both countries, Reuters reports.

Tried in absentia in Croatia, Milovanovic is believed to have activated the bomb planted under Mr Pukanic's car and received the harshest sentence.

The court was unable to determine who commissioned the assassination, which prompted the country's prime minister to sack both the justice and interior ministers.

Serbian prosecutors have accused wealthy Serbian businessman Sreten Jocic of organising the killing, charges he denies.

Tackling corruption and cracking down on organised crime is a key requirement for all Balkan countries seeking to join the EU. Croatia is aiming to complete EU entry talks in 2011.

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