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"Koha Ditore" journalist allegedly threatened over critical reporting

(IPI/IFEX) - Vienna, 25 February 2010 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), strongly condemns threats against Vehbi Kajtazi, a journalist for the daily newspaper "Koha Ditore", in Pristina, by a former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) - Ushtria Clirimtare e Kosoves, or UCK.

Kajtazi wrote a critical article about the amnesty for a group of prisoners, including Alban Geci, the son of Sabit Geci, a former KLA Commander, on 18 February 2010. After the article was published, Sabit Geci allegedly threatened Kajtazi for supposedly slandering his family. When he was asked by the newspaper what he was doing, he denied that he had threatened the journalist. He said: "I do not threaten, I act."

After he received the threat, the journalist reported on it on 23 February 2010 in an article entitled: "Sabit Geci: I do not threaten, I act".

Kajtazi reported the case to the Kosovo Police (KP) where he was advised to forget about the threat and not to continue to press charges as the court was not going to take any further action in the case.

Kajtazi was also allegedly threatened by Sabit Geci in April 2009 when he published details of the charges against Geci's two sons, following an attack on the house of Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.

"SEEMO is very alarmed by the passive attitude of an official institution such as the police, when threats by journalists are being reported," commented SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic. "It is important that authorities and government officials support journalists by providing the necessary assistance and help when threats have been received."

SEEMO strongly condemns the threats on Kajtazi and urges the authorities in Pristina to do everything in their power to investigate this case, as well as to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.

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