30 January 2024

Serbian power struggles could be behind Liberal president's 1985 murder

| Albert McKnight
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Radojko Djordjevic

Radojko Djordjevic was a father-of-four whose body was found near Goulburn in 1985. Photo: NSW Police.

Political power struggles within the NSW Serbian community may have resulted in the cold case murder of a father and Liberal branch leader whose body was found near Goulburn in the 1980s after he had been shot three times.

On Tuesday (30 January), NSW Police announced a $500,000 reward for information regarding the murder of then-47-year-old Radojko Djordjevic.

The decomposed body of a man was found in bushland off South Marulan Road – just east of the Hume Highway – in Marulan on 31 January 1985.

He had fatal gunshot wounds and was later identified as Mr Djordevic, who had been reported missing by his wife when he failed to meet her and his children in Canberra for the Bojic church festival on 26 January 1985.

A post-mortem confirmed he had been shot three times in the neck and chest and a coroner’s report indicated he likely died between 9:30 pm on 24 January and 11 am on 31 January.

“Police believe there may have been a political motivation to his murder,” Detective Acting Superintendent Virginia Gorman said.

She said the former country of Yugoslavia, which Serbia had been a part of, was in the process of fragmentation in 1985 and there had been various different conflicts within the Serbian community itself.

Investigations suggested there had been “political power struggles” within NSW’s Serbian organisations, she said.

“Mr Djordevic was a prominent member of that community and there was a degree of conflict within those organisations about, basically, control and direction of those organisations,” Acting Superintendent Gorman said.

He had been the president of the Free Serbian Orthodox church and president of the Old Toongabbie branch of the Liberal Party in Western Sydney.

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Acting Superintendent Gorman described him as an immigrant to Australia and “a child of World War 2”.

Police believe he intended to join his family, who were already in Canberra, but he was an unlicenced driver who was not driving at the time.

“Our information is that he was potentially picked up by people in a car and taken to Canberra. We’ve not definitely identified who those people may be, so anybody in that car could be of particular interest,” Acting Superintendent Gorman said.

“That car trip is particularly significant in the investigation.”

Acting Superintendent Gorman said as it had been a long time since the internal conflicts within the Serbian community, there may be people who were more comfortable to talk about what was happening at the time, who may have been involved and who may have information that related to the case.

“It may mean that this is about people who are now deceased, but that doesn’t matter because the family need to know what happened to their father,” she said.

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Mr Djordevic had four children from two marriages and his daughter, Gana Djordjevic, said she hoped with all her heart that the new $500,000 reward may inspire any witnesses to come forward.

“I had just turned 21 when our father, Radojko Djordevic, was brutally bashed and then shot three times – my brother Dragan was 19, Milan was 13 and Miladin was 10,” she said.

“I am 60 now, and we are desperately still seeking closure to the continuous grieving, suffering and insecurity caused by my father’s death.

“My father was unlicenced at the time of his killing, which tells us he wasn’t driving a car and the person or persons responsible for this is someone we may have considered family friends.”

In 2003, police arrested and charged a man with the murder but he was later acquitted.

Anyone with information that may assist investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or by clicking here.

Original Article published by Albert McKnight on Riotact.

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