In Serbia, hand grenade explodes outside reporter’s home

New York, April 17, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by an attack against Dejan Anastasijevic, an investigative reporter and editor for the Belgrade weekly magazine Vreme. One of two hand grenades planted on a window sill outside the journalist’s bedroom exploded at 2:50 a.m. Friday, Anastasijevic told CPJ.

“We commend the authorities’ efforts to protect our colleague, Dejan Anastasijevic, and his family,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “But we reiterate our alarm at this heinous attack on a prominent, independent journalist and his family, and we call on authorities to bring those responsible to justice as soon as possible.”

The explosion caused extensive damage to Anastasijevic’s first-floor apartment and to several cars parked in front of the central Belgrade building, according to international press reports. Anastasijevic and his wife were sleeping in their bedroom at the time of the explosion but did not sustain serious injuries, the journalist told CPJ.

In addition to his work as an investigative reporter for Vreme, Anastasijevic wrote extensively about wartime abuses and organized crime for local and international media. During a local radio talk show last week, Anastasijevic criticized as too lenient the War Crimes Court’s decision to sentence four Serb commandoes to a maximum prison term of 20 years for the 1995 execution of six Muslims in Bosnia, according to CPJ sources and international press reports.

Friday’s attack has been widely condemned in Serbia. President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica vowed to find and punish the attackers, and each affirmed his support for freedom of the press, according to international press reports.

“I think someone was trying to send a message but got a response they didn’t expect,” Anastasijevic told CPJ. Police have provided the journalist and his family with 24-hour security, he said. No suspects have been detained, but Anastasijevic said police appear to be giving the case a high priority.