|MARCH 16, 2004|
Posted: April 7, 2004
Hanibal Kovac, RFE/RL
Kovac, a correspondent for the South Slavic Service of the U.S. government–funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) who is based in the western Serbian city of Sabac, was convicted of criminal defamation and given a two–month suspended prison sentence by a Sabac city court.
Cedomir Vasiljevic, a local businessman who was a minister in former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's government (from 1997 to 2000) and is currently a senior official in the ultra–nationalist Serbian Radical Party, sued Kovac for criminal libel in response to Kovac's report for RFE/RL's South Slavic Service and Albanian Language Service that aired on September 2, 2003.
The report described the alleged takeover of an administrative building in Sabac by Vasiljevic and his armed guards in July 1999. The building hosted several local businesses and the headquarters of an opposition party. The occupants of the building were evicted forcefully, seven of them were beaten, Dragan Stavljanin, editor of the Serbia and Montenegro branch of RFE/RL's South Slavic Service, told CPJ.
Following the seizure of the building, RFE/RL reported that Vasiljevic claimed the building and registered it in his name.
In his September 2, 2003, broadcast, Kovac interviewed several people allegedly beaten during the eviction. They said on the air that following the eviction they tried to file lawsuits against Vasiljevic but the Sabac city court refused to consider their complaints for fear of Vasiljevic's powerful position in town, RFE/RL reported.
The presiding judge at Kovac's trial, Ivica Lazarevic, is a close associate of Vasiljevic's. Kovac had previously criticized the nepotism of the Sabac courts in his broadcasts, RFE/RL said.
MARCH 27, 2004
Posted: March 30, 2004
Radio Television B92
A hand grenade was discovered beneath the company vehicle of the Belgrade-based independent Radio Television B92 at around noon.
B92's five-member television crew had just finished covering riots near Kosovo's capital, Pristina, and had parked their vehicle, which contained the crew's technical equipment, close to the local police station in the southern Serbian city of Raska, along the Kosovo border. As soon as B92's technician noticed the grenade underneath the vehicle, the crew called the Raska police, according to a member of B92's reporting team.
According to B92 Editor-in-Chief Veran Matic, the station had received anonymous bomb threats several days before the incident. As a result, the crew had parked near the Raska police station for safety reasons.
According to B92, the station regularly receives threats from radical Serbian nationalists who are displeased by the station's reporting.
The Raska police removed the grenade immediately after B92's technician reported to them. However, the police did not take any fingerprints, handled the grenade with bare hands, and did not secure the crime scene, a B92 crewmember told CPJ.
In a letter to the Serbian Interior Ministry dated March 30, Matic urged to investigate the incident thoroughly.
B92 is known for its outspoken criticism of attempts by the government and nationalist politicians to silence independent journalists who criticize government policies.
MAY 28, 2004
Posted: June 7, 2004
Dusko Jovanovic, Dan
Jovanovic, the controversial publisher and editor-in-chief of the opposition daily Dan, was killed in a drive-by shooting in the early morning while he was leaving his office in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica, according to local and international news reports.
Unidentified assailants used an automatic rifle to shoot Jovanovic in the head and chest just after midnight as he was getting into his car.
Jovanovic was rushed to the Clinical Center in Podgorica and died several hours after undergoing surgery, according to an article posted on Dan's Web site.
Dan Assistant Editor Danilo Vukovic told CPJ that Jovanovic had received a letter with a vague threat about a month ago. Investigative judge Radomir Ivanovic and police officers are currently investigating the murder, according to local press reports.
Dan is closely tied to the Socialist People's Party, which supported former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic throughout the 1990s and has faced numerous lawsuits for criticizing Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and his ruling coalition government.
Djukanovic filed a libel lawsuit against Jovanovic in April for published articles linking the prime minister to a human trafficking scandal. A court hearing was set for June, Vukovic told CPJ.
In June 2002, a court in Podgorica ordered Jovanovic to pay 15,000 Euros (US$18,300) in damages to Djukanovic, who was Montenegro's president at the time, after Dan republished articles from a Croatian newspaper linking Djukanovic to tobacco smuggling in the Balkans, the Podgorica-based news agency Mina reported.
Jovanovic was the first journalist to be prosecuted by the Hague-based U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) after his newspaper published an August 2002 story revealing the identity of a protected witness.
Protected witness K-32 testified against Milosevic, who is being tried by the ICTY for war crimes. The witness received threatening phone calls after Dan revealed his identity. In April 2003, the tribunal charged Jovanovic with contempt of court, and he faced up to seven years in jail and/or a fine of up to US$106,000.
Jovanovic publicly apologized for revealing the witness's identity in a March 2004 article published in Dan, and the tribunal dropped its charges against the editor the following month, The Associated Press reported.
In addition to his journalistic work, Jovanovic was also active in business and politics. The motive for his killing remains unclear.
SEPTEMBER 23, 2004
Posted: September 27, 2004
Fatmire Terdevci, Koha Ditore
Terdevci, an investigative reporter with the Kosovo independent daily Koha Ditore, was shot and wounded, according to The Associated Press and local CPJ sources.
The journalist, 30, was traveling from Glogovac, a small town in central Kosovo, to the capital, Pristina, in a car belonging to the Catholic humanitarian organization Caritas. At around 7:30 p.m., at least one assailant shot and wounded her in the left arm, Nafer Miftari, deputy editor of Koha Ditore told CPJ. She was not on an assignment at the time.
Two bullets were fired from behind; one went through the car's windshield, and the other hit Terdevci. Her brother and a Caritas worker were also in the car, but only Terdevci was wounded, Miftari said.
Terdevci was treated overnight at the Pristina Central Hospital and was released this morning. Her condition is stable, Miftari told CPJ.
"Terdevci is one of our best investigative reporters," Baton Haxhiu, executive director of the Kosovo Journalists' Association, told CPJ. "She oftentimes writes on sensitive subjects." However, Haxhiu would not speculate about the possible motive for the attack.
Miftari told CPJ that Terdevci usually writes about official corruption, smuggling of goods over the Kosovo-Montenegro border, and organized crime in Kosovo.
U.N. police are currently investigating the incident.
The predominantly ethnic Albanian province of Kosovo remains part of Serbia and Montenegro but has been run by a temporary U.N. administration since June 1999.