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Serbian minister for infrastructure assaults "Kurir" journalist

(IPI/IFEX) - Vienna, 3 February 2010 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), condemns the pressure applied to Kurir journalist Milan Ladjevic by Serbian Minister for Infrastructure Milutin Mrkonjic.

On 2 February 2010, in the hall of the Serbian Parliament, Minister Mrkonjic, according to several sources, assaulted Kurir journalist Ladjevic. Serbian media reported that the Minister slapped the journalist's face as he talked to fellow journalists. The minister also verbally attacked the journalist with obscene language. Later, when asked about the case, Minister Mrkonjic informed the media that he "only gently stroked the head of Ladjevic." Today Mrkonjic said he was sorry about everything, and that he "maybe has an unusual way of communication."

Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General, said: "To be a politician, moreover a Minister who is a member of the government, means to communicate professionally and responsibly with journalists and this must be respected by every politician."

Vujovic added: "SEEMO welcomes the apology for his behaviour expressed by Minister Mrkonjic. SEEMO hopes that Minister Mrkonjic will change, after this incident, his way of communication with journalists, regardless of the media they represent. SEEMO also hopes that the Minister will respect in future his suggestion today that he does not want any conflict with journalists. As a politician, he must know that he must behave professionally and that critical reporters are important for democratic development in a country."

SEEMO would like to remind politicians that those with legitimate complaints against the media have a range of different mechanisms through which to pursue these complaints. Any assaults against journalists, whether physical or verbal, are unacceptable.

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