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On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria,heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were shot dead in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, one of a group of six assassins (five Serbs and one Bosnian Muslim) coordinated by Danilo Ilić. The political objective of the assassination was to break off Austria-Hungary's south-Slav provinces so they could be combined into aYugoslavia. The assassins' motives were consistent with the movement that later became known as Young Bosnia. The assassination led directly to the First World War when Austria-Hungary subsequently issued an ultimatum against Serbia, which was partially rejected. Austria-Hungary then declared war.

DC-1914-27-d-Sarajevo-cropped

The first page of the edition of the Domenica del Corriere, an Italian paper, with a drawing of Achille Beltrame depicting Gavrilo Princip killing Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo.

On top of these Serbian military conspirators was Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence Dragutin Dimitrijević, his righthand man Major Vojislav Tankosić, and the spy Rade Malobabić. Major Tankosić armed the assassins with bombs and pistols and trained them. The assassins were given access to the same clandestine network of safe-houses and agents that Rade Malobabić used for the infiltration of weapons and operatives into Austria-Hungary.

The assassins, the key members of the clandestine network, and the key Serbian military conspirators who were still alive were arrested, tried, convicted and punished. Those who were arrested in Bosnia were tried in Sarajevo in October 1914. The other conspirators were arrested and tried before a Serbian kangaroo court on the French-controlled Salonika Front in 1916–1917 on unrelated false charges; Serbia executed three of the top military conspirators. Much of what is known about the assassinations comes from these two trials and related records.

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