Police officers are seen in Zagreb, Croatia, on October 12, 2020. Two men recently threatened journalists at outlets that reported on a wedding which had allegedly violated COVID-19 restrictions. (AP/Darko Bandic)

Two men threaten to kill journalists at Croatian outlet over coverage of wedding amid coronavirus

Berlin, December 8, 2020 — Croatian authorities must quickly and thoroughly investigate the threats made to journalists at the Zadarski.hr website and Slobodna Dalmacija newspaper, and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

At about noon on December 1, in the coastal city of Zadar, two men wearing surgical masks entered the shared office of local daily newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija and news website Zadarski.hr, and one shouted that they would “slaughter journalists” who had reported on a wedding that allegedly violated the country’s coronavirus regulations, according to news reports and a report by Zadarski.hr.

The men then left the scene and said they would return, according to those reports. The following day, police in Zadar detained a man from Slivnica Gornja, the site of the wedding, for allegedly making those threats, Zadarski.hr reported.

“It is a welcome development that Croatian authorities have quickly identified the perpetrator allegedly responsible for the threats to journalists at Zadarski.hr and Slobodna Dalmacija,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Authorities must ensure that the case is thoroughly investigated, and that threats against the press do not go unpunished.”

On November 30, Slobodna Dalmacija and Zadarski.hr published reporting on a November 28 wedding in Slivnica Gornja, which alleged that about 100 people had attended, and that police had not intervened to enforce COVID-19 restrictions.

One of the men who entered the publications’ office shouted that he disputed that report, saying that only 23 people attended the wedding, and called the journalists “vultures,” according to reports.

CPJ emailed the editorial office of Zadarski.hr and the press department of Croatian Ministry of the Interior, which oversees the country’s police, for comment, but did not receive any replies.