Broadcast editor receives death threats

August 9, 2007
POSTED September 12, 2007

Stefan Cvetkovic, TNT, Bela Crkva

On August 9, Cvetkovic, editor in chief of the independent radiotelevision station TNT in the city of Bela Crkva, about 100 km (62 miles) east of the capital, Belgrade, received two anonymous phone calls from an unidentified number. A male voice threatened to kill him and uttered profanities at him, the independent Belgrade-based broadcaster B92 reported. Cvetkovic believes the threats are in response to his station’s critical coverage of local authorities.

Six months before, TNT broadcast a video, recorded with a hidden camera, showing two Bela Crkva police officers snorting a white powder, reportedly a drug, off of a local café’s table. The broadcast brought about a six-month suspension of the featured police officers; the two were later fired from the local police department, Sasa Mirkovic, Chairman of the Belgrade-based Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) told CPJ. Mirkovic, who is also the director of communications for B92, told CPJ that the broadcaster retransmitted the video, giving it nationwide exposure.

In the months following the broadcast, Cvetkovic’s TNT continued to report on corruption and economic and social ailments in Bela Crkva. Cvetkovic received several telephone and verbal threats in that period, Mirkovic told CPJ.

“I answered those threats by reporting them to the police, but there is still no information pointing to investigations being started against these people,” a B92 news release quoted Cvetkovic as saying.

Local and regional press groups such as ANEM and the Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organization have protested the threats against Cvetkovic.

The threats against Cvetkovic come against a disturbing backdrop: the 1999 execution-style murder of Slavko Curuvija of Dnevni Telegraf in Belgrade,and the 2001 brutal slaughter of Milan Pantic of Vecernje Novosti in Jagodina remain unsolved to this day. Serbian authorities have also reported no results in the investigation of the April 2007 murder attempt on Dejan Anastasijevic of the Belgrade weekly Vreme.