Court frees Serbian ruling party official accused of torching journalist’s home

Court frees Serbian ruling party official accused of torching journalist’s home

Court frees Serbian ruling party official accused of torching journalist’s home Izvor: N1

A Belgrade court has ordered the release of a ruling part official accused of organizing an attack on the home of an investigative journalist, N1 was told on Thursday.

The court issued a written order to release Grocka municipal Mayor Dragoljub Simonovic from police custody. Simonovic, a ranking official of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), was arrested on December 25, 2018 on suspicion of organizing the attack and torching of the home of Zig Info portal journalist Milan Jovanovic on the night of December 11-12, 2018. 

The organisers of #1 in 5 million protests said on Thursday that Simonovic’s release from custody was a threat to Jovanovic, but also to any journalist who did not support the regime.

 N1 has been told that prosecutors filed a request to extend Simonovic’s time in custody fearing that he could make good on threats and repeat the crime he is accused of organizing but the Second Basic Court ruled to free him saying there was no longer any need to keep him in detention because all witnesses had given statements.

Jovanovic told N1 that the decision is incomprehensible, that he is scared again and wonders whether Simonovic will send men to destroy his property and take his life.

Belgrade’s deputy Mayor Goran Vesic said earlier that the city assembly does not have the powers to dismiss Simonovic as head of the Grocka municipality but can only call municipal elections if the legal requirements are met.

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