Criminal charges against Serbia’s journalist dropped

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Source: N1

Criminal charges against Nova.rs journalist Ana Lalic were dropped, a public prosecutor in Serbia’s northern city of Novi Sad told the Beta news agency on Monday.

Lalic was charged with ‘causing panic and unrest under Criminal Code Article 343,’ after the Vojvodina Clinical Centre sued her following an article in early April in which her unnamed sources said the medical staff at the Centre did not have enough protective gear.

Novi Sad Deputy Public Prosecutor said that Lalic and her defence lawyer were informed that the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office dropped all charges against her in its decision from April 20.

Lalic was arrested on April 1 and detained for 48 hours. After a night spent in detention, she was released. Still, until Monday it was not clear whether the charges would be dropped, especially after the main epidemiologist in the Crisis Team admitted there was not enough protection gear at the start of the epidemic, but that he didn’t say that to avoid the spreading of panic.

„When we asked the heads of health institutions in Belgrade if they had the protective equipment, all but one said they had enough. That stand toward the have and have not shown how unready we were at that time,“ Kon said, answering a journalist’s question.

He added that „when they had two or three boxes (of the equipment) no one thought about how much of that would be used in such conditions… or that is just my impression.“

„I knew, under quotation marks, that there was not enough of that and I was relieved when I saw that plane,“ Kon added.

Lalic was the only journalist in Europe arrested for reporting on coronavirus epidemic and that caused a public outcry at home and abroad.