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Six jailed for Pukanic's murder

"Nacional" editor Ivo Pukanic and marketing manager Niko Franjic were both killed when a car bomb went off near their Zagreb office in October 2008

Nacional.hr

A court in Croatia has convicted six men for the mafia-style murder of high-profile journalist Ivo Pukanic, say international news reports. Pukanic, editor of the magazine "Nacional", was killed in October 2008, alongside his marketing manager, Niko Franjic, when a car bomb went off near their Zagreb office.

Last week the six men were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 15 to 40 years for first degree murder and aiding in first degree murder.

Pukanic was known for investigations into corruption and crime at the highest levels of Croatian society. He was thought to have close links with some criminals himself, but it is widely believed he fell victim to an organised crime attack and was targeted for what he wrote.

At the time of the killing, the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), called the bombing "one of the most serious attacks on press freedom in the past years, not just in Croatia but in the entire South East European region."

Eight people - all believed to have connections to organised crime groups - were indicted for the murder of Pukanic. Three are currently on trial in neighbouring Serbia for the same crime, including Zeljko Milovanovic who was indicted in both countries.

Tried in absentia in Croatia, Milovanovic is believed to have activated the bomb planted under Pukanic's car. As a result, he received the harshest sentence.

Said the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) at the time of the charges, "Authorities must now bring to justice the masterminds who commissioned these eight accused, and send a signal that impunity will not be tolerated."

The court was unable to determine who commissioned the assassination, which prompted Croatia's Prime Minister to fire both the Justice and Interior Ministers. After the murder, Croatia boosted its judiciary system and set up a special department to prosecute and try organised crime and corruption cases.

Tackling corruption and cracking down on organised crime is a key requirement for all Balkan countries seeking to join the EU, which Croatia is hoping to do in 2012.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Related stories on ifex.org
  • Serbian police arrest suspects in deadly Croatian bombing

    The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the arrests of three additional suspects in the October 2008 murders of Ivo Pukanic and Niko Franjic.

  • BOMBING OF TWO JOURNALISTS THREATENS CROATIA'S BID TO JOIN EU

    It has been called one of the most serious attacks on press freedom in years in the entire South East European region, one that could seriously damage Croatia's bid to join the European Union: two journalists were killed in a car bombing in Croatia, report the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), and other IFEX members.



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