New York, April 3, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by death threats made against Dinko Gruhonjic, head of the Vojvodina branch of the independent news agency BETA and chairman of the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina, by a local neo-Nazi group.
The threats, which were posted on a neo-Nazi Web site this week, stem from Gruhonjic’s coverage of National Formation, a neo-Nazi group based in the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad, the journalist told CPJ. Gruhonjic’s reports publicized the group’s activities, including a 2005 organized attack where neo-Nazis armed with crowbars, attacked participants marking the anniversary of Kristallnacht—a pogrom against Jews throughout Germany and parts of Austria in 1938—according to local and international press reports.
In November 2006, a local court convicted 18 of the group’s members of inciting hatred and endangering public security. The group’s leader, Goran Davidovic, was sentenced to one year in prison, according to local and international press reports. Davidovic, who is currently appealing the decision, is not in custody.
Davidovic and other members of the group have threatened Gruhonjic in the past, local sources told CPJ. Davidovic denounced the journalist as an enemy of the Serbian people and as a traitor in an autobiography published in December 2006. Gruhonjic has filed a civil defamation suit against Davidovic for the comments, the journalist told CPJ.
“We call on authorities to thoroughly investigate the threats made against our colleague Dinko Gruhonjic, and take immediate measures to protect the safety of Gruhonjic and his family,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “Every effort should be made to bring those responsible to justice without delay.”
Police are currently investigating the threats made against Gruhonjic but no suspects have been detained. Local journalists told CPJ they are frightened by the threats made against Gruhonjic and angered by the lack of reaction from authorities, which they say exacerbates the vulnerable position of independent journalists in Serbia.