Berlin, June 5, 2018–The car of Dragoş Boţa, the editor-in-chief of local news website Pressalert, was set on fire by unknown assailants the night of June 2, 2018, in Romania’s southwestern city of Timişoara, the Romanian news agency Mediafax reported. No one was injured, according to the report.
Boţa’s neighbors reported the fire to the emergency services around 2:40 a.m. on June 2, 2018. Firefighters found that the rear window of the car had been smashed before the car was set alight, according to Mediafax.
Police believe that the car blaze was premeditated and opened a criminal investigation into the fire, representatives of the Timiş County Police Inspectorate told Mediafax.
Boţa referred to the fires as “a Mafia-style act of intimidation,” according to The Associated Press. According to the AP report, Boţa has been working on a story about an advisor to the Timişoara mayor, Nicolae Robu, and the journalist’s previous reports in Pressalert have angered local authorities.
Speaking with Mediafax, Boţa said he will keep reporting. “It is time to ask ourselves whether we accept to see Timişoara become another Sicily,” he told the news website.
The city’s mayor called for a thorough investigation into the fire, while also stating that Boţa had been “libeling [him] for years,” the AP reported.
In a Facebook status update, quoted by Mediafax.ro, Robu wrote that the city`s reputation was at stake. “Timişoara has and must preserve the fame of a safe city, a city of legality, freedom of expression, but also of perfect public order,” he said.