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Two journalists assaulted, threatened by mayor

IPI Strongly Condemns Physical Attack on Journalists by Mayor of Podgorica and His Son

(IPI/IFEX) - Vienna, 7 August 2009 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is alarmed over the 5 August 2009 assault on two journalists of the independent Montenegrin daily newspaper Vijesti by the Mayor of Podgorica, Miomir Mugosa, and his son, Miljan, who works for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro.

Mihailo Jovovic, the editor of Vijesti, and Boris Pejovic, a photojournalist, were working on a story on improper parking in front of a café on Bulevar Svetog Petra Cetinjskog in Podgorica, when they were attacked by the mayor and his son. Although Jovovic identified himself with his press card, Mayor Mugosa and his son continued to physically assault the journalists and swear at them. At one point, a member of the mayor's group reportedly pointed a gun at Jovovic.

According to Vijesti, the mayor and his son admitted to the police officers who arrived on the scene that they had attacked the journalists. Both Jovovic and Pejovic were injured in the incident. Jovovic was taken to hospital with an ear injury.

This is not the first physical attack on a Vijesti staff member. In 2007, Zeljko Ivanovic, a co-owner of the daily, was assaulted by men wielding sticks as he left a restaurant in the centre of Podgorica. Vijesti is well known for its investigative reporting and critical coverage of the government.

Commenting on the incident, SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said, "It is shocking that a public person like the Mayor of Podgorica, as well as his son, who works for the Foreign Ministry, should behave in this aggressive manner toward journalists who were only doing their work, and who even identified themselves accordingly." Vujovic added, "SEEMO welcomes the police investigation into this case, but nevertheless urges the authorities in Montenegro to do everything in their power to prevent such incidents from happening in the future."

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