Reporter brutally assaulted in Belgrade

New York, July 26, 2010—Serbian authorities must thoroughly investigate the brutal attack on Teofil Pancic, a reporter for the independent weekly Vreme, and consider journalism as a potential motive, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Two masked assailants followed Pancic aboard a Belgrade bus at around 11 p.m. on Saturday, attacked him with metal rods, and quickly fled, according to regional and international press reports. Pancic, briefly hospitalized after the attack, suffered a concussion and arm injuries, news reports said.

Pancic told the independent Belgrade-based broadcaster B92 he believes the attack was in retaliation for his journalism. Zoran Stanojevic, a Vreme colleague, told CPJ that Pancic often criticized nationalism and the spread of violence in Serbian society.

“We condemn this vicious attack on our colleague Teofil Pancic and urge Serbian authorities to bring his assailants to justice,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “The promised investigation into this assault must be thorough and consider journalism as a motive.”

Serbian authorities condemned the assault and promised to investigate, B92 reported. “I believe the police will do their work and find the attackers who assaulted and injured Teofil Pancic. We have to invest a lot more effort to create an environment in which physical attacks against those who think differently would never happen,” Serbian President Boris Tadić said in a statement.