Prosecutors in the Serbian city of Zrenjanin threw out charges filed by an N1 journalist against a Chinese national behaving in a threatening manner towards her and a cameraman.
The charges were filed by N1 reporter Ksenija Pavkov against Chen Pengui who used his car to block the N1 crew vehicle to prevent Pavkov and cameraman Aleksandar Milanovic from leaving the Linglong site in Zrenjanin so that he could photograph the license plates. Pavkov reported on the Vietnamese construction workers employed by Linglong to build a factory who were living in extreme conditions. Chen Pengui was in charge of the Vietnamese nationals.
N1 TV said it will appeal the prosecution decision.
The charges were filed late in November 2021. Chen Pengui was charged with jeopardizing the safety of the N1 crew and violating the right to freedom of speech.
The prosecution said it reviewed the video recordings that were submitted and decided to throw out the charges after the suspect gave a statement. The prosecution concluded that the suspect “did not in any way, verbally or by any action, display any evil but spoke on the telephone and after finishing the call photographed the registration of the passenger vehicle” the N1 crew was in and then left. According to the ruling, there were no grounds for the criminal charges because the suspect said he did not know who the people in the car were.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Dragan Mojsin determined that there are no grounds to state that the suspect committed the crimes of violation freedom of speech because he denied the charge and because the prosecution determined indubitably that “the plaintiffs used their right to free speech before and after the event”.
The prosecution said that “if there is evidence that the suspect took pictures of Pavkov and Milanovic” that is evidence of the crime of unauthorized photographing which is subject to a private law suit.
The prosecution added that the suspect said he was an employee of China Energy in charge of workplace safety for the foreign nationals engaged at the construction site. He claimed to have come across the N1 vehicle by chance when another car tried to drive around them. He also claimed to have moved his car without knowing who was in the other vehicle but did see them recording with phones and decided to take a picture of their license plates thinking someone had come to take his workers away.
Pavkov told prosecutors that the N1 car was blocked. “The Chinese national’s vehicle stopped sideways in front of us so we couldn’t go around and that man gazed at us in a threatening manner,” she said adding that she was scared. She said that she saw the same man at the workers’ quarters trying to hide from her crew.
Cameraman Milanovic said he was driving the N1 car when the road was blocked. He said he was also scared.