Belgrade broadcaster forced to evacuate following threat

New York, July 15, 2005—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a bomb threat made late Thursday night against the Belgrade-based independent radio and television station B92.

An anonymous caller told a B92 security guard that a bomb would explode in an hour inside the station’s offices because of its “anti-Serb campaign,” according to local news reports and CPJ interviews.

B92 director Veran Matic told CPJ in a telephone interview today that about 15 staffers were evacuated from the premises for about two hours while the police examined the building and its surroundings. No explosive devices were found.

B92 said in a statement that the threat was made after Vjerica Radeta, a member of Parliament from the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), called the station “mercenary and anti-Serb” during a debate. SRS vice-president Aleksandar Vucic made a similar charge against the station on July 9.

The station also received a bomb threat on Monday after a live broadcast of the commemoration of the 1995 massacre of Bosnian Muslims in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica, B92 journalist Marko Mrkic told CPJ.

Matic told CPJ that threats against B92 have intensified during the last year, and many have been made directly against him and his family. “The radicalization and the rise of the number of threats are the results of the inefficient reaction of the government and the police to the past threats,” Matic told CPJ.

B92 has provided extensive news coverage of politically sensitive war crimes issues in Serbia and is the only broadcaster in the region providing live coverage of the trial of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic at the Hague-based United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.