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News 23 Nov 17

Serbian Journalists Dismayed After Prosecutors Reject Assault Charges

Serbian media associations have requested an urgent meeting with the state prosecutor, after prosecutors rejected charges brought by journalists attacked at President Aleksandar Vucic’s inauguration.

Filip Rudic
BIRN
Belgrade
Protesters trying to reach the parliament building during Vucic's inauguration inside. Photo: Milos Miskov/Beta

Three Serbian media associations – members of the working group for the safety of journalists – have requested an urgent meeting with the public prosecutor Zagorka Dolovac after her office rejected charges brought by journalists assaulted at President Aleksandar Vucic's inauguration.

They say they want Zagorka Dolovac to "annul the consequences" of the First Basic Prosecutor’s decision.

"We will request an explanation of the unacceptable reasoning behind the charges’ dismissal, which practically accuse the journalists of wanting to stage riots among Progressive Party supporters," the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia, Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina and the Association of Independent Electronic Media said.

People at Vucic’s support rally, which occurred outside parliament while Vucic was being inaugurated inside, told the police that a "lynching" might well occur if some people were not removed from the event, the First Basic Prosecutor’s office concluded.

It concluded that men who were caught on photo violently handling journalists and protesters "acted decently, did not threaten anyone, pleaded for the provocations to end, and suchlike."

The media associations said that they were now considering whether to stay in the working group for the safety of journalists, which also includes the Interior Ministry, the National Public Prosecutor’s office, and several other media associations.

"In the meantime, the journalists’ and media associations will use all legal means in agreement with [the attacked journalists] to protect their rights and basic justice," the associations said.

They noted also that "key cases" of attacks against journalists in the past had never been solved, citing the murders of Dada Vujasinovic in 1994 and Milan Pantic in 2001, as well as the planting of a bomb under the window of Dejan Anastasijevic in 2007.

"The same goes for cases … which have occurred since the working group was established, such as the filming of Juzne Vesti journalist Predrag Blagojevic, [KRIK journalist] Dragana Peco's appartment break-in and numerous death threats to others," the associations said.

The Prosecutor’s office did not answer BIRN’s request for comment by the time of publication.

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