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news 14 Feb 14

Policeman Suspended over Vijesti Attack in Montenegro

A police officer has been suspended after the police determined that he failed to protect the location where a car belonging to daily Vijesti was set on fire on Thursday.

Dusica Tomovic

Montenegrin police said they had suspended a police officer, named as V. V., pending disciplinary action, as he had failed to protect the location where a car belonging to the daily newspaper Vijesti was set on fire on Thursday.

"At the time when Vijesti's car was burned, the officer was not at the location where the vehicle was parked, although this was his task," the police statement on Thursday said.

For several months, police in the capital, Podgorica, have undertaken "operational observations of the media and their property" in order to prevent such attacks.

Early on Thursday, unknown persons poured gas over the newspaper's vehicle and set it alight. No one was injured.

It was the fifth attack on Vijesti's property in three years. Two company cars were set ablaze on July 14, 2011. Another car belonging to the daily was torched on July 23 of that year and another on August 27, 2011. All these cases remain unresolved.

The latest attack was recorded by a camera on the entrance of a nearby building, but police have not yet identified the attacker. Based on the tape, they assume it was a man aged 20 to 25.

On Thursday, international and local organizations, as well as local opposition parties, condemned the latest attack on the daily and urged the authorities to fully investigate it.

The head of the EU Delegation in Montenegro, Mitja Drobnic, and the Italian Ambassador, Vincenzo Del Monaco, visited Vijesti immediately after the attack.

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation, SEEMO, said that the latest attack was worrying and expressed concern about the fact that earlier investigations did not result in any arrests.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, said that she was "extremely concerned" about journalists’ safety in Montenegro.

"Today’s attack adds to the already very dangerous trend of violence and hostility toward members of the media in the country,” Mijatovic said.

Local NGOs have demanded that police and prosecutors finally put an end to violence against the media, saying the repeated attacks on Vijesti's cars testifies to the apparent immunity these vandals enjoy.

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