RSF calls Serbia to combat impunity in attacks on journalists

NEWS 02.07.2020 18:54
Source: Shutterstock

The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Thursday called the Serbian authorities to combat impunity in cases of attacks on journalists.

A press release called the Serbian judiciary to combat impunity in the appeal filed against a conviction for the murder of journalist Slavko Curuvija in 1999 and in the trial for the arson attack on the home of investigative journalist Milan Jovanovic in 2018.  

It recalled that the final outcome of the Curuvija case remains uncertain until the appeal is heard on July 7-9. Curuvija, a fierce critic of the Milosevic regime, was killed by state security service personnel during the NATO air campaign.

“There is concern the Court of Appeals could overturn the verdict and order a retrial as a result not only of the appeal but also the prosecution’s appeal, which is hard to understand, given the severity of the sentences,“ the press release said.   The RSF said that the „slowness and ineptitude“ of the Serbian judiciary in the Curuvija case „undoubtedly encouraged“ the attack on Jovanovic’s home. „It cannot be ruled out that the trial will end up acquitting the accused,” the press release said.  

„In Belgrade, the conviction of Slavko Ćuruvija’s murderers must be upheld, while the attack on Milan Jovanović’s home deserves a swift judicial decision with exemplary sentences to signal the beginning of the end for impunity for crimes of violence against journalists in Serbia,” said Pavol Szalai, the head of RSF’s European Union and Balkans Desk.  

The RSF also called the Montenegrin judiciary to guarantee due process in the retrial of a journalist on what it said are absurd drug-trafficking charges.

The press release said that Montenegrin investigative reporter Jovo Martinovic’s “right to due process was flagrantly denied because he spent 15 months in detention from 2015 to 2017, reinforcing the impression that courts and prosecutors take their orders from politicians”. The original sentence of 18 months in jail was overturned and his retrial is due to resume on July 6. “The court must take account of the evidence and testimony demonstrating Jovo Martinović’s innocence,” Szalai said and added that convicting him again would be a clear sign that Montenegro is backsliding on press freedom and respect for the rule of law.