Following the decision of the High Court in Belgrade to fine weekly NIN 300,000RSD for defamation of the character of Serbian Interior Minister Nebojša Stefanović as the result of an article about the illegal demolition of buildings in Belgrade’s Savamala neighbourhood, the Court of Appeal has overturned the judgement and decided that NIN is not guilty.
The verdict states that in the disputed article the journalist criticised the police minister, as the holder of public office, for the events that occurred in Savamala between 24th and 25th April, when as-yet-unidentified persons used an excavator to teardown several buildings and the police failed to respond to calls from citizens.
In this sense, the verdict states, Stefanović’s honour and reputation have not been hurt, because the reporter drew a conclusion on the basis of Stefanović’s political responsibility, and did so on the basis of an official report of the Ombudsman regarding the events of that night.
The Minister now has to pay NIN, its chief editor and journalist, 89,700RSD for legal costs.
Stefanović’s lawyer announced that, if need be, he would appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, to which NIN editor-in-chief Milan Ćulibrk responding by saying that “such a complaint would cause those in Strasbourg to faint”.
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