Arkan: Untwisting the Tiger's Tale

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As people start to ask "Who shot Zeljko Raznatovic?" the answers aren't so much who wanted him dead as who didn't. The paramilitary leader known as Arkan, gunned down along with two others Saturday in the lobby of the Belgrade Intercontinental hotel, had a long and brutal criminal history that included time as the leader of the infamous Tiger militia that terrorized civilians in Bosnia and Croatia. So the questions begin: Was the attack some bit of gangland retribution from one of Arkan's many shady associates? Or was the hit ordered by someone in Slobodan Milosevic's government who didn't want Arkan testifying before the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal?

The U.N. had hoped that Arkan, indicted for war crimes committed in the Balkans from 1991 to '95, would testify at The Hague that he had performed his atrocities on Milosevic's orders. For years the Serbian government has denied this, but Arkan had begun to differ, telling TIME last April that he had acted under the command of the Yugoslav army — and, by implication, under the command of Milosevic.

Finding out who is responsible for Arkan's death won't be easy. The events are already murky — whether there was one gunman or two is in question — and suspicious: Somehow, the assailant(s) managed to get off at least 38 shots and still have time to escape. As with many things related to the last, terrible decade in the Balkans, the truth may never fully be known.