Criminal charges against journalists’ attackers dropped

November 30, 2017

The Higher Public Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade has dropped criminal charges against individuals responsible for security at the ruling Serbian Progressive Party’s rally on 31st May, when several journalists and activists were dragged away, choked and verbally harassed as they were expelled from the gathering.

The cases were dropped despite photographs that later appeared in several independent media outlets showing the security personnel acted violently as they ejected journalists and activists from the crowd of people who gathered outside the National Assembly to show their support for Aleksandar Vučić, who was then taking his presidential oath.

After an investigation lasting several months, the prosecution assessed that security staff behaved decently and actually prevented a larger incident, claiming that the gathered masses were provoked by the fact that the complainants “clearly expressed political views opposed to those held by the majority of those present at that time”.

In reaction to the decision, five major journalists’ and media associations withdraw their representatives from the Working Group for Safety of Journalists, and sought an urgent meeting with national public prosecutor Zagorka Dolovac, demanding that the reasons for the rejection of the charges be explained.

However, no meeting took place yet. In the meantime, Justice Minister Nela Kuburović commented that it was not appropriate for anyone to request that judges and prosecutors explain their decisions.