Serbian police were searching for suspects after Ljubomir Markovic, the leader of the fan association “Alkatraz” for the Partizan football club, was shot to death, local media reported.

Witnesses say that an unidentified gunman fired several bullets at Markovic (seen on banner in top photo) at a Belgrade gas station on Friday evening. Two of the shots reportedly hit the 37-year-old in the head, according to Serbia’s public broadcaster RTS.

Authorities deployed large numbers of police to the area, but they were unable to immediately track down the shooter.

Markovic was part of the group of hooligans that attacked French national Brice Taton in 2009, when the team he supported, Toulouse, traveled to Belgrade to play Partizan. The 28-year-old Taton was brutally beaten and eventually thrown from a terrace of a cafe in downtown Belgrade. He died in hospital 12 days later.

 Banner with a portrait of Brice Taton (picture-alliance/dpa/G. Horcajuelo)

Taton was in a pub with other Toulouse supporters when he was attacked

Released after amnesty

Serbian authorities arrested several Partizan fans in the wake of the incident, which prompted large media attention. In 2009, Markovic was sentenced to 30 years in jail for his role in the murder, but his sentence was later reduced to a 13-year term. He subsequently received amnesty and was released on parole in 2017.

Government opponents and independent media in Serbia often accuse the current government of maintaining ties with football hooligans and gangs. Local crime syndicates are known to use hooligans as low-level law enforcers in Belgrade and other Serbian cities.

Crime gangs linked with extreme fans

On Saturday, the opposition party SSP, led by former Belgrade Mayor Dragan Djilas, asked for the explanation for Markovic’s amnesty to be made public. The party accused the government under President Aleksandar Vucic of using “serious criminals and murders” for its own illegal purposes.

Read more: Mafia murders shock Serbia, reveal web of corruption

Authorities arrested multiple key members of Markovic’s fan group in the wake of the Taton killing, allowing a rival group, “Janjicari,” to become the most influential faction. In 2016, one of its leaders, Aleksandar Stankovic (also known as Sale the Mute) was killed after reportedly visiting a gym with a guard working in Belgrade’s central prison.

Stankovic had previously been sentenced to almost six years on drug dealing charges but managed to avoid going to jail by claiming health problems, according to the daily Blic. His killer remains on the loose, although unconfirmed reports indicate a Montenegrin crime syndicate might be behind the killing.

dj/tj (Beta, AFP)

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