Journalist Milan Jovanovic, whose house was recently burned to the ground, came under attack again on Sunday evening when unidentified men tried to break into the apartment he was forced to move to.
Jovanovic told N1 that he and his wife were in the darkened apartment when they heard the balcony door being broken. He said he jumped up and shouted to his wife to hand him his pistol, scaring the men away. The break-in was reported to the police and the prosecutor handling the arson attack on his house.
The journalist moved to the rented apartment after spending some time living with neighbours in the suburb of Vrcin after his house was burned to the ground. Molotov cocktails were thrown into the house and shots were fired at the front door on December 12. The arson attack is thought to have come over Jovanovic’s reporting on alleged abuses of power and embezzlement by the local authorities for the ZIG Info portal.
Jovanovic told N1 that he fears for his safety and that he told the police several times but was given no protection. He added that he has been promised some police protection and a reinforced monitoring of the area he lives in.
ZIG Info portal editor Zeljko Matorcevic told the Beta news agency that Jovanovic’s location was being kept secret. “No one knew except the police and fellow journalists. Either the attackers are working with the police or they managed to find out somehow,” Matorcevic said, adding that Jovanovic told him that everyone at the portal should request protection because of certain information that he has.
Belgrade city police chief Milan Stanic rejected the claims that only the police knew where Jovanovic had moved to, saying that the police was not informed. “Jovanovic did not inform the police that he had moved two days earlier nor did he provide us with his new address and we couldn’t have taken the necessary security measures,” a statement said and added that a permanent police presence had been set up in front of the building where Jovanovic is now living in.
Three journalists’ organizations protested over the fact that Jovanovic was not given police protection and demanded an immediate investigation into who was behind the attacks.
“The Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS) and Independent Society of Vojvodina (NDNV) demand an immediate solution to the attacks on Jovanovic, that is the discovery of who is giving the orders. It is more than obvious that our fellow journalists will not be safe until that is done and in that sense, Jovanovic’s claims about who is behind the attacks have to be thoroughly investigated,” a joint statement said.
In a separate statement, the Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) called the police and prosecutors to find the people responsible for the break-in. “The UNS calls all media to help solve this case and investigate all allegations of abuse of public funds which Jovanovic wrote about for the ZIG Info portal,” UNS said.