Photo: Perica Gunjic, Cenzolovka

Court of Appeal decides on objections in legal process over arson attack on the house of journalist Milan Jovanović

April 2, 2024

The public section of the Court of Appeal’s consideration of appeals of both the defence and prosecutor against the first-instance verdict convicting four assailants for setting fire to the house of journalist Milan Jovanović has concluded.

This journalist’s house was set ablaze in December 2018. According to the indictment, the order to commit the crime was issued by Dragoljub Simonović, then president of the Grocka Municipal Assembly and a senior official of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, in response to investigative journalism on corruption in that municipality that had been published by Jovanović.

Following five years of court processes, two first-instance verdicts have been passed and resulted in Simonović being sentenced to four years in prison, and subsequently four and a half years. The Court of Appeal ordered a retrial in response to the first verdict, while it is now set to either issue a final verdict or open a new appeal process.

The trial was awash with obstructions by the defence and resulted in the secondary victimisation of Jovanović and his wife Jela Deljanin, who were left without their house and most of the property they had acquired over the course of their lives as a result of the fire.