Reporter Jovo Martinovic is seen in Podgorica, Montenegro, on October 8, 2020. A court recently rejected the journalist's appeal in a drug case. (AFP/Savo Prelevic)

Montenegro court rejects journalist Jovo Martinović’s appeal

New York, March 31, 2021 – Montenegro authorities should not contest journalist Jovo Martinović’s request to have his case reviewed by the Supreme Court and prosecutor general, and should allow him to work freely and without legal harassment, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On March 28, the Court of Appeals in the capital, Podgorica, rejected Martinović’s appeal and upheld his one-year prison sentence on drug trafficking charges, according to news reports and the journalist, who spoke with CPJ via email and messaging app.

Martinović told CPJ he plans to contest the appeals court ruling to the prosecutor general and the Supreme Court, which can review the legality such decisions.

“Montenegro seems determined to continue denying journalist Jovo Martinović the justice he deserves in his fight to clear his name of retaliatory drug charges,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martínez de la Serna, in New York. “Authorities should accept Martinović’s appeals to have his case reviewed by the prosecutor general and Supreme Court, and should stop their campaign of legal harassment against the journalist.”

Martinović, an investigative freelance journalist who covers organized crime, told CPJ that the decision meant that his sentence would enter into force, although he is allowed to remain free because his previous 14 months in pretrial detention, from 2015 to 2017, count as time served for that sentence.

Authorities first detained Martinović for his alleged participation in a drug trafficking ring on October 22, 2015, and held him in pretrial detention until 2017; in 2019, he was convicted on drug and organized crime charges, and in a 2020 retrial he was sentenced to one year in prison on the drug charges, as CPJ documented at the time. 

Martinović has denied the charges, and previously told CPJ that he believed they were in retaliation for his reporting.