law symbol
Serbia: Prison sentence for arson attack on journalist Milan Jovanovic

Press-ECPMF

25 February 2021

No Comments

mfrr logo

The Media Freedom Rapid Response coalition (MFRR) welcomes the verdict in the criminal case concerning the arson attack against Serbian journalist Milan Jovanovic, rendered on 23 February by the Second Basic Court in Belgrade. The court sentenced former Grocka mayor Dragoljub Simonovic to four years and three months of prison for having ordered the arson attack on Jovanovic’s house in December 2018. The court also sentenced Vladimir Mihailovic and Aleksandar Marinkovic in absentia to four years in jail. Mr Marinkovic was sentenced for perpetrating the arson attack; however, his whereabouts have been unknown since the start of proceedings. This sentence sets an important precedent for ensuring that those who commit crimes against journalists in Serbia – so often met with impunity – are brought to justice.  

 

During the final hearing, Judge Slavko Žugić also condemned the continuous obstructions the court faced in its work as a result of the defence’s multiple requests to postpone the hearings. It was reported that the defence team left the courtroom when being reprimanded by the court. The prosecutor affirmed that he will appeal the decision to seek a higher sentence for the three convictions. Simonovic’s lawyer also stated that they will appeal the judgment, but the  grounds of their appeal are yet to be known.

Against a backdrop of  proceedings in journalists’ cases lasting for decades, this sentence in Jovanovic’s case is particularly important. According to a recent report by the Slavko Curuvija Foundation, only one in 10 criminal complaints involving threats to or attacks on journalists results in a court verdict in Serbia.

The MFRR notes that a high number of cases of harassment and threats against journalists Serbia has been recorded since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The MFRR recently concluded an online international mission to ascertain the status of media freedom and journalists’ protection in the country: preliminary findings outline that additional safeguards and strong political will are needed for safety of journalists and access to justice to be fully guaranteed.

 

Signed by:

ARTICLE 19

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

International Press Institute (IPI)

This statement is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), an Europe-wide mechanism, which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries. This project provides legal and practical support, public advocacy and information to protect journalists and media workers. The MFRR is organised by an consortium led by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) with ARTICLE 19, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the Institute for Applied Informatics at the University of Leipzig (InfAI), International Press Institute (IPI) and CCI/Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT). The project is co-funded by the European Commission. www.mfrr.eu

Read news by categories:

Related news

Feature

Greece: MFRR partners welcome acquittal of journalists in Novartis criminal case

The partner organisations of the MFRR today welcome the resounding exoneration of four Greek journalists and publishers who faced criminal charges and potential lengthy prison sentences linked to their media outlets’ investigative reporting.

READ MORE
Feature

Netherlands: Press freedom organisations welcome policy debate on media freedom and journalists’ safety

The partners in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) and other undersigned press freedom organisations welcome the publication of the letter from the Dutch Government to the Parliament regarding a proposed policy approach on media freedom and safety of journalists.

READ MORE
Feature

ECPMF signs joint media freedom statement on the European Media Freedom Act

As the European Commission is finalising the draft proposal for a European Media Freedom Act, ECPMF has joined a coalition of media freedom groups to call for the EMFA to address issues around the European single market, media ownership and transparency of economic relations with the state, and how to support a vibrant, diverse and independent media sector.

READ MORE
Feature

Media freedom groups concerned by delay in investigation into leak of Emilia Șercan’s stolen photos

ECPMF joined a collection of media freedom and freedom of expression groups to express concern at delays to the investigation into the publication of Romanian journalist Emilia Șercan’s stolen photos and the alleged leak of key elements of the investigation into this offense. 

READ MORE
Mission

Czech Republic: MFRR pushes for reforms to strengthen independence of public broadcaster

Representatives from IPI and ECPMF travelled to Prague on 15 June to meet with officials from the Ministry of Culture and push for the development of reforms which strengthen the independence of the country’s public broadcaster.

READ MORE
Feature

Spain: Fine against photographer underscores urgent need for reform of Gag Law

Partners of the MFRR today express serious concern over the recent €1,000 fine issued to Pulitzer prize-winning photographer Javier Bauluz under Spain’s controversial “Gag Law”.

READ MORE