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ANEM calls sentences for attackers of B92 camera operator "too light"

(ANEM/IFEX) - Belgrade, May 5, 2011 - The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) strongly protests the outcome of the first instance legal proceedings against the attackers of B92 cameraman Bosko Brankovic.

Brankovic was assaulted and seriously injured while reporting from a rally protesting the arrest of Radovan Karadzic on July 24, 2008 in Belgrade. The media reported that the attack on Brankovic was provoked by his recording of an attack on his colleague, a reporter for FoNet. The Council of the First Primary Court in Belgrade, presided by Judge Ana Trifunovic, sentenced Milan Savatovic today to 10 months of house arrest after establishing that he had kicked Brankovic's camera and his right shoulder, causing him to fall to the ground. Stefan Milicevic and Nikola Lazic, who approached Brankovic and started beating him, together with several other unidentified suspects, were sentenced to 6 months in prison or a 3-year probation. As a consequence of their actions, Brankovic suffered a broken knee joint.

ANEM believes that these sentences are inappropriate and too light, not only considering the seriousness of the injury suffered by Brankovic, but also considering the degree of violation of free expression and media freedom that such a brutal attack represents for journalists and cameramen who were performing their jobs. Unfortunately, the Serbian judiciary continues to show a lack of understanding of the importance of media freedom in a democratic society, as well as a disregard not only for the physical integrity and safety of journalists, cameramen and photojournalists, but also for the public's right to be informed about issues of public interest.

Inappropriate sentences for attackers of journalists and other media professionals, which have become common in Serbia, are a serious impediment to freedom of expression. Far from sending a message to the attackers that violence against journalists, cameramen and photojournalists is unacceptable, these verdicts send a message to the media that it is better to not report on some issues.

ANEM expresses its full solidarity with Bosko Brankovic and all other journalists and media workers who have been exposed to threats and attacks because of their jobs, and calls on the authorities to act more responsibly to protect the right to freedom of expression and to respect the role of the media in a democratic society.

ANEM demands that the competent First Primary Prosecutor's Office in Belgrade appeal this verdict against our colleague's attackers.

ANEM President,
Sasa Mirkovic

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
Case history


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