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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Masked men beat Montenegrin novelist, kill driver

PODGORICA, Oct 25 (Reuters) - One of Montenegro's leading novelists said on Wednesday he was beaten and his driver shot dead late on Tuesday in the capital, Podgorica.

Jevrem Brkovic, 73, one of the most prominent writers in the tiny Adriatic republic, said he was attacked outside his apartment building by masked assailants armed with guns and metal clubs.

His driver and bodyguard, 53-year-old Srdjan Vojicic, was shot dead. Brkovic himself was treated in hospital for head injuries.

Talking to reporters at the hospital, he said the attack was linked to his latest book, "A Duklja Lover", a novel set in an underworld where crime and politics come together.

"It was the act of killers and mafia bosses who recognised themselves in my latest novel," Brkovic said.

No stranger to controversy, the outspoken writer fled to Croatia in the early 1990s after he fell out with Serb nationalists over the 1991-95 war in Croatia. He returned to Montenegro in 1999.

In May this year, Montenegro voted to end its union with Serbia and become independent.

The new country is still dealing with the image of lawlessness it acquired in the 1990s, when smugglers using its rugged coast made fortunes from breaking sanctions imposed on the rump Yugoslavia for its role in the Bosnia war.

In May 2004, the editor of the main opposition newspaper was shot dead and his death was seen as resulting from his public campaign against officials he accused of having mafia links. His killers have not been found.

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