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Television station owner attacked over report; IPI and SEEMO concerned over pattern of unresolved attacks against journalists

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is a 24 July 2008 letter by the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an IPI affiliate, to First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Ivica Dacic:

H.E. Ivica Dacic
First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior
Bulevar Mihajla Pupina 2
Belgrade, Serbia
Fax: +381 11 314 8 535

Vienna, 24 July 2008

Your Excellency,

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), would like to express its concern about the recent attack on Stefan Cvetkovic, and the general pattern of unresolved crimes against journalists in Serbia.

According to information before SEEMO, on 18 July, Cvetkovic, owner and editor-in-chief of RTV TNT from Bela Crkva, was physically attacked by an individual while having dinner at a restaurant. According to Cvetkovic, the attack was related to a past report aired on his TV station. As outlined in a SEEMO protest letter of 13 August 2007, Cvetkovic previously received death threats by way of telephone. In its letter, SEEMO urged Serbian officials to investigate these threats. SEEMO now urges Your Excellency to do everything in your power to protect Cvetkovic, and to ensure that this case is closed by bringing the perpetrator to justice.

This attack is just one example of a troubling trend in Serbia. SEEMO notes that its records indicate that, since the beginning of 2008, 36 threats or attacks have been made against journalists in Serbia.

Several unresolved attacks loom particularly large. Dada Vujasinovic, journalist for the magazine Duga, died under unclear circumstances on 8 April 1994. Slavko Curuvija, owner of Dnevni Telegraf, a daily, and the magazine Evropljanin, was gunned down near his home in the centre of Belgrade on 11 April 1999. Milan Pantic, a local reporter for the Belgrade-based daily Vecernje Novosti, was murdered on 11 June 2001 in Jagodina. In addition, the culprits behind the 14 April 2007 bomb explosion in front of the apartment window of Dejan Anastasijevic, an investigative reporter and editor for the Belgrade-based weekly magazine Vreme, have not been found.

SEEMO welcomes Your Excellency's call for the protection of journalists against pressure and attacks, and urges you to ensure that it is appropriately followed-up on.

We thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Oliver Vujovic
SEEMO Secretary General

IPI, the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, is dedicated to the furtherance and safeguarding of press freedom, the protection of freedom of opinion and expression, the promotion of the free flow of news and information, and the improvement of the practices of journalism.

For further information on previous death threats against Cvetkovic, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/85448

For the Curuvija case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/66065

For the Pantic case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/75020

For the Anastasijevic case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/82549

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