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News 04 Jul 13

Detained Macedonian Journalist ‘Badly Treated’ in Jail

Detained Macedonian investigative journalist Tomislav Kezarovski has complained to the country’s ombudsman, alleging that he has been ill-treated in Skopje’s Shutka prison.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Kezarovski, who has been held at the jail in Skopje for more than 30 days, has told deputy ombudsman, that he is being deprived of prescribed open-air exercise and is not allowed to receive daily newspapers that he pays for.

However after visiting Kezarovski in his cell in Shutka Prison, deputy ombudsman Tripun Tanusevski told the initiative board for Kezarovski’s release that the journalist’s physical health was satisfactory.

The board is made up of leading Macedonian journalists’ associations, which are worried about Kezarovski’s mental wellbeing.

“Instead of two hours guaranteed by the law, our colleague spends no more than 20 minutes outside his cell [per day],” said one of the journalists on the board, Petrit Saracini, after talking to the ombudsman.

“He also complained that he is not receiving regularly the daily newspapers which he has legal right to,” Saracini said.

The ombudsman said he had informed the court in Skopje and the Shutka prison about these issues.

Police detained the investigative journalist from the Nova Makedonija daily newspaper in May. He has been held in custody ever since, despite calls by all the main journalists’ associations in the country for his immediate release.

He was arrested in relation to an article he wrote in 2008 for Reporter 92 magazine in which he revealed the identity of a witness in an unresolved murder case.

The protected witness later told a court that his testimony regarding the murder was false and was made under threats from the police.

The Skopje criminal court ruled last week that Kezarovski should remain behind bars for another 30 days, giving the same explanation as it has before, which was that the journalist might “escape or influence other witnesses” in a wider investigation.

However his supporters insist that there was public-interest justification for his actions.

“Kezarovski was detained for a publishing an article in which he revealed abuse by the police... which is in the public interest without question,” said Tamara Causidis, head of the Independent Trade Union of Macedonian Journalists.

The OSCE, the Association of European Journalists and the international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders have all condemned the arrest, calling for Kezarovski's release.

The Network for Reporting on Eastern Europe, N-OST, the network for supporting investigative journalism, SCOOP, and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, have also launched a joint campaign for Kezarovski’s release.

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