(ANEM/IFEX) - ANEM is strongly protesting the sentencing of TV Leskovac
producer Ivan Novkovic to thirty days' imprisonment. Novkovic was sentenced
by a municipal
misdemeanours judge in Leskovac. ANEM is also protesting Novkovic's
dismissal from TV Leskovac.
**Updates IFEX alert of 7 July 1999**
On 1 July 1999, during a break in a basketball match between Yugoslavia and
Germany, Novkovic put to air his own message to the Leskovac audience,
calling on people to gather in the town's central square on 5 July to
protest against the policies which have led Serbia to the brink of poverty
and caused the unwarranted destruction of the country.
Some 25,000 Leskovac citizens subsequently attended the 5 July rally at
which Novkovic spoke. One of the protesters' demands was that the local
media in Leskovac begin reporting objectively and stop false propaganda
representations of the desperate situation in the southern Serbian town. A
second rally was announced for the following day, 6 July.
On the morning of 6 July, the municipal misdemeanours judge found Novkovic
guilty of organising a public gathering which had not been registered with
the police and sentenced him to a month's imprisonment. As a result of this
ruling, protesters at that day's rally in Leskovac clashed with police as
they demanded that Novkovic be released from prison immediately.
Novkovic was also immediately dismissed by TV Leskovac after the conviction.
ANEM gives its full support to Novkovic's action and applauds his courage in
speaking out publicly on a television station which is under the strict
editorial control of the regime. ANEM demands that Novkovic be immediately
released from prison and reinstated as TV Leskovac's producer.