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News 17 Aug 17

Kosovo Journalist Blames Work for Assault

Investigative journalist Parim Olluri, who was assaulted on Wednesday night in Pristina, said he suspected the attack was linked to his probing articles in the media.

Perparim Isufi
Parim Olluri

Investigative journalist Parim Olluri said he suspected his work was the reason why he was attacked on Wednesday in Pristina.

He has received medical treatment for minor body injuries following the assault outside his home in the Kosovo capital.

He later told Pristina-based TV station Dukagjini that he believes the assault was a consequence of his work as journalist.

“I suspect the assault could be linked with articles I have written because I have nothing personal with anyone,” Olluri said.

An award winning investigative journalist, he worked as a journalist and editor with BIRN Kosovo for four years until December 2015. He now runs the online newspaper “Insajderi”.

Police confirmed the incident and said the case was under investigation.

On Tuesday, Olluri wrote an article for “Insajderi”, entitled: “If Adem Jashari were alive, he would be a millionaire and corrupted”.

The reference to the independence war hero killed by the Serbs comes in the wake of a heated debate in Kosovo about the post-war activities of the main figures in the former guerrilla force, the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA.

“Following publication of the article on KLA commanders, I faced threats and abuse on social networks. I cannot prejudge if the assault is linked with this specific article, but I believe that it is linked with my work as journalist,” Olluri said.

The assault has been broadly condemned by politicians and civil society representatives.

The head of the Association of Kosovo Journalists, Shkelqim Hysenaj, told BIRN that the authorities should investigate the attack “as soon as possible and bring the criminals to justice.

“The attack on our colleague Olluri is an attempt to scare journalists and violates the principles of freedom of the press and of journalists,” Hysenaj added.

President Hashim Thaci, who was political director of the KLA during the 1998-1999 war, on Facebook urged journalists “not to be discouraged by such criminal acts.

“The assault … is intolerable in the country we have built on the values of democracy, respect of human rights and freedom of expression,” Thaci said.

Prime Minister Isa Mustafa called the assault “disturbing news”.

“In a society where the right to public speech is granted, such acts are unacceptable and to be condemned. I trust in the efficiency of state mechanisms to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Mustafa said.

The OSCE Mission in Kosovo also condemned the incident. “This is an attack on freedom of expression. Journalists should be free to state a different opinion without fear of violence or physical injury,” an OSCE statement read.

The assault follows a harassment case that former journalist Arbana Xharra reported, when unknown persons painted a cross in blood red near the apartment where she lives with her family. The case has not been solved.

In February, the Kosovo journalists association accused the authorities of failing to arrest and prosecute perpetrators of attacks on reporters, even when victims were killed.

Early this year, police said that since 1999 there have been 154 cases of attacks on journalists, and 17 of these cases are still being investigated.

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