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PROTESTERS ATTACK JOURNALISTS COVERING KARADZIC'S ARREST

Journalists covering the arrest of the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic are continuing to be harassed and attacked, say the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

On 24 July, Bosko Brankovic, a cameraman with ANEM member station Radio Television B92, was attacked as he was filming thousands of demonstrators in Belgrade protesting against Karadzic's 21 July arrest for war crimes.

Brankovic was injured while filming a group of protesters assault a FoNet News agency photographer, who was also taking pictures of the demonstrations. According to ANEM, a young man knocked Brankovic down and continually kicked him while fellow protesters chanted "strike the reporter" and police officers looked on. RSF says one of Brankovic's legs was broken, his knee ligaments were torn and his camera was smashed.

ANEM says similar attacks against reporters and citizens have been happening since Karadzic's arrest without any condemnation from the authorities. ANEM reported at least five separate incidents in Belgrade and Novi Sad on 22 and 23 July.

"These attacks on media professionals present a renewed attempt to create an atmosphere of fear and anxiety to prevent media from... presenting complete and objective information to the general public on all the issues they are entitled and interested to be informed about," says ANEM. The organisation is calling on the authorities to identify and punish the perpetrators.

Karadzic has been flown out of Serbia and is expected to be handed over to the UN war crimes court at The Hague on 30 July to face genocide charges. He is accused of masterminding the 1995 slaughter of 8,000 Muslims in the Bosnian city of Srebrenica and authorising the shooting of civilians during the siege of Sarajevo.

Karadzic was the commander of the Bosnian Serbs when they committed a number of free expression violations, from putting critical journalists on blacklists and restricting their movements to attacking journalists and media houses.

Despite the war crimes allegations, Karadzic is still revered by many as a wartime hero for helping to create the Bosnian Serb mini-state. A protest in Belgrade on 29 July against Karadzic's extradition drew more than 15,000 supporters. IFJ reported that cameraman Oscar Martínez, from the Spanish public television, TVE, had his camera broken and was being treated in hospital after being hit by a protester with an iron bar.

Visit these links:
- ANEM: http://tinyurl.com/668uw8
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=27950
- IFJ: http://tinyurl.com/59cyo7
- Human Rights Watch on Karadzic: http://tinyurl.com/6prqz4
- IFEX alerts on press freedom violations under Karadzic: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/190/
(30 July 2008)

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