After three and a half years since Daragana Peco's, a reporter with Serbia's Crime and Corruption Reporting Network, KRIK, apartment was vandalised and nothing valuable stolen, there is no information about perpetrators, and the case remains open.
Peco was out of town at the time of the ‘burglary, but since the apartment was thoroughly searched, and nothing of value taken, the case immediately looked more of a warning sent to a journalist than a mere burglary.
It drew public attention again late on Monday when President Aleksandar Vucic mentioned the case out of the blue.
„I was horrified… and I was sure that some people from the security services knew who broke into her apartment. We never officially received that information. Such things must never happen again in normal Serbia,“ Vucic told the pro-government Happy TV, without being asked about the case from July 2017.
Peco told the independent Insajder production, his statement upset her more than the vandalised apartment.
„On the one hand, what President Vucic said was irresponsible because he only hinted that there might be some information. On the other, it is dangerous because he, as the most powerful man in this country, suddenly pulls the case out of nowhere and talks about being sure that someone knew that and did not say anything concrete. I am now even more upset than I was. And not only I but also my colleagues who have been calling me since this morning,“ Peco told Insajder.
Veran Matic, a member of the Working Group for the Safety of Journalists, recalled the case was mentioned in every report of the Republic Prosecutor’s Office from 2017 and that there was no progress. He said Vucic told him he had no information about who might do that, but „a personal feeling.“
Peco said no one contacted her for years nor received any official information that anyone officially knew who had broken into the apartment.
„He (Vucic) falsely accused KRIK again of links to (arrested leader of a criminal gang Veljko) Belivuk and that we knew they wanted to overthrow the government. Then he talked about breaking into my apartment. I do not believe that there is an intention to investigate this, nor will I find out who did it or who from the security service knew who that was. The President has repeatedly called on everyone these days to let KRIK work freely and not to attack us, but I do not believe it is a sincere call, but on the contrary, it upsets and worries me even more,“ Peco said.
The respective prosecutor’s office told Insider that there was no new information in that case from 2017.
Besides Peco’s flat, the apartments of two more KRIK reporters, Milica Vojinovic in October 2019 and Andjela Mitrovic in October 2020 were vandalised, Insajder said.
The Group and NUNS’ records show KRIK is one of Serbia’s most attacked media, with many unsolved cases, including endangering its journalists’ safety in 2016 2019, that also hasn’t had an outcome.
However, the police believed it was just a burglary since they said they knew about two groups allegedly operating in that part of the city, Insider said.
„It is in our interest for the case to be resolved completely,“ the then Interior now Defence Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said in September 2017.
So far, nothing has been discovered, nor anyone from those allegedly known thieves has been identified and arrested.