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Croatia: One journalist attacked, another burned in effigy

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), said today [12 March 2014] that it was worried about a number of recent incidents of pressure on journalists and media in Croatia.

Ante Tomic, a writer and columnist with the daily Jutarnji List, reported that he was attacked on Feb. 23 while sitting in a cafe in the centre of the town of Split by an unknown man who dumped a bucket of faeces over Tomic's head. Tomic said the man told him: "Now you can write about me again."

SEEMO said it supported the Croatian Journalists Association (Hrvatsko novinarsko drustvo) in its calls for police to apprehend the assailant as soon as possible.

In another case, SEEMO expressed shock at reports that carnival participants in the town of Omis burned an effigy symbolising Vinko Vukovic, a journalist from the daily Slobodna Dalmacija who has reported on corruption in the town. Local sources attributed the incident to supporters of a local politician.

SEEMO also said that it was surprised by accounts of pressure from Croatian financial authorities on the critical news portal Index.hr, which in recent years has reported on financial and other affairs in Croatia and in neighbouring countries.

"Every company, including Index, must respect all legal and financial regulations," SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said. "But what is astonishing is that other companies in Croatia that have bigger financial problems were not under similar pressure by the financial authorities. Authorities must hold all companies to an equal obligation to respect legal and financial regulations."

Vujovic said that SEEMO would continue to monitor developments in the three cases, commenting: "All of these cases could have a negative influence on media freedom in Croatia."

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