Milorad Ulemek

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Milorad Ulemek
Милорад Улемек
Legija milorad ulemek.jpg
Nickname(s) Legija, Cema, Šareni, Ćoro
Born (1968-03-15) 15 March 1968 (age 48)
Belgrade, SR Serbia, SFR Yugoslavia

French Foreign Legion
Serb Volunteer Guard

JSO (Special Operations Unit)
Years of service 1984–2002
Rank Colonel
Commands held Head of the Special Operations Unit

Milorad "Legija" Ulemek (Serbian: Милорад "Легија" Улемек; born 15 March 1968[1]), also known as Milorad Luković (Милорад Луковић) is a former commander of the Serbian secret police special unit, the Special Operations Unit (JSO) and a former paramilitary commander, who was convicted of the assassinations of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić and former Serbian President Ivan Stambolić. He was also convicted of conspiracy in the attempted murder of Serbian opposition leader Vuk Drašković.[2]

Early life[edit]

Ulemek was born on 15 March 1968, in Belgrade, to a family of Croatian Serb origin. His father Milan was a sub-Officer in the Yugoslav Army, while his mother Natalija was a housewife. Ulemek grew up in New Belgrade, near the Hotel Jugoslavija.[3]

Although he was problematic in his early teens, he finished an auto mechanic program and medicine school in Belgrade. In 1984, he became friends with Kristijan Golubović and together the two committed their first "big" robbery. Ulemek was given the nickname "Cema" from "cement".[3] After a botched robbery in 1985, Ulemek fled to France.

French Foreign Legion[edit]

On 10 April 1986 he joined the French Foreign Legion where he stayed for 6 years in the 2 REP, serving in Chad, French Guyana and Yugoslavia. He was given the nom de guerre "Legion" (Legija) because of his military career in the Legion.

During his service and as sergeant, he did a tour in Yugoslavia as translator for the French Army. On his return, he did not come back from his leave and was considered as a deserter from the French Foreign Legion and went back into Yugoslavia when the Wars erupted in 1992.

Yugoslav Wars[edit]

He joined the Serb Volunteer Guard under the control of Serbian warlord Arkan. Ulemek became one of Arkan's closest friends and a commander of the unit. He commanded the "Super Tigrovi" (Super Tigers) special unit which operated in eastern Slavonia. The unit was disbanded in April 1996, and all of its members were ordered to join the Yugoslav Army.[citation needed]

Red Berets and Đinđić assassination[edit]

However, in the same year the JSO was formed, merging what was once the Serb Volunteer Guard with the wartime "Red Berets". Jovica Stanišić,[3] head of the State Security Service asked Ulemek to join the unit. In 1999, Ulemek became the leader of the "Red Berets",[4] and became the official commander of "JSO SDB Serbia" in April 2001.

The Red Berets were used during Milošević's rule for special operations in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, as well as for the elimination of Milošević's political opponents.[2]

Đinđić's assassination was described by Presiding Judge Nata Mesarović as "a political murder, a criminal act aimed against the state", in which police officers and the Mafia had joined hands to kill Đinđić and gain political power. Ulemek's deputy in the Red Berets, Zvezdan Jovanović, was convicted of shooting Đinđić.[2]

The Đinđić murder trial was the first organised crime trial in Serbia. There were widespread threats to the trial chamber, as well as witness intimidation and the murder of a witness. The first trial chamber president, Marko Kljajević, left the proceedings in August 2005. One of the most controversial moments of the trial was Ulemek's surrender in May 2004, after he claimed that he had been hiding in his house for nearly 14 months.[2] Ulemek was eventually sentenced to 137 years in prison for his crimes.[5]

Personal life[edit]

He married Maja Luković in 1994 in Belgrade.[citation needed] In prison, he wrote several novels: The Iron Trench, The Legionnaire, The Boys from Brazil, The Judas: A Novel about Friendship, Pack of Wolves, The End, The Magician and The Secret of my Heart.[citation needed]


  1. ^ His birthyear in some sources are 1968.Gvozdeni rov
  2. ^ a b c d "Djindjic's killers convicted, sentenced after 3½-year trial" by Igor Jovanovic, Southeast European Times, 24 May 2007, accessed 21 January 2011
  3. ^ a b c "Legija: Od najtraženijeg begunca do najčuvanijeg". 2015-12-19. Retrieved 2016-02-22. 
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of war crimes and genocide, page 470: Milorad Ulemek
  5. ^ "INTERVJU, MILORAD ULEMEK LEGIJA: Niko u državi nema muda da obnovi suđenje". (in Serbian). EKSPRES. 1 June 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016.