picture-alliance / dpa | epa Stankovic

Serbia: Court of Appeals acquits suspects of journalist Slavko Ćuruvija’s murder

On Friday 2nd February 2024, the Belgrade Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Special Department for Organized Crime of the High Court in Belgrade, and acquitted the four suspects for the murder of journalist Slavko Ćuruvija. This disappointing development constitutes a grave backslide to the fight against impunity and further undermines journalists’ safety. 

 

This final decision comes 25 years after the murder of Slavko Ćuruvija, who was shot dead outside his apartment in Belgrade on 11th April 1999. First convicted in 2019, the Court of Appeals confirmed the guilty verdicts in  2020  of the four former members of the State Security Service (SBD), Radomir Marković, Milan Radonjić, Miroslav Kurak and Ratko Romić. A retrial started in 2022 following additional information related to the facts of the accusation.  The final hearing of the retrial was held in March 2023 and its verdict was only made public last Friday. The Court confirmed the decision of the second instance court and acquitted the defendants due to lack of reliable evidence. This decision is final and cannot be reversed. 

 

The Media Freedom Rapid Response partners strongly denounce the Court’s decision and ultimately the lack of justice rendered for the murder of journalist Slavko Ćuruvija. This verdict reinforces an existing climate of hostility against journalists in Serbia, often singled out for their work and targets of harassment and pressure. Further, this decision fails to send a clear message that attacks and violations of journalists’ safety and rights will not be tolerated and will be strongly addressed by the State. Finally, it casts a shadow over the investigations of the killings of two other journalists in Serbia, Milan Pantić in 2001 and Dada Vujasinović in 1994, whose cases still remain unresolved. 

 

We call on the international community to strongly condemn  the lack of accountability in solving Ćuruvija’s case and bring justice to his family. We also urge the Serbian State to ensure justice for the killings of journalists Pantić and Vujasinović, and commit to ensuring a safe climate for all journalists in Serbia. 

 

Signed:

ARTICLE 19 Europe 

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

Free Press Unlimited (FPU)

International Press Institute (IPI) 

OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)

SafeJournalists Network

This statement was coordinated as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and candidate countries. 

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