Photo: Flickr, Bloomsberies

Journalist sentenced to three months for posting photo he claims didn’t publish

December 16, 2019

The Basic and High Court of Prokuplje sentenced journalist Ljubiša Mitić, a correspondent of Niš-based Južnih vesti [Southern News] and Belgrade-based national daily Politika, to three months in prison for the unauthorised publishing of a photograph on a local portal that he used to edit.

The journalist denied having ever published the photo in question or of knowing the person show in the image, but the court favoured witnesses who claimed otherwise, as well as the injured party, although she claimed that the photo had been taken months before it was allegedly published. The key evidence used by the court was a screenshot of a page of the portal allegedly showing the disputed photograph.

Lawyers view the verdict as being full of controversial points, while they highlight the court’s decision to declare the journalist Mitić a public official as the most controversial and most dangerous for journalists. Such a qualification allowed the prosecutor to prosecute the journalist for dereliction of his official position, instead of being prosecuted under a private lawsuit that wouldn’t entail a prison sentence.

Mitić now awaits the decision of the Supreme Court of Cassation, which he addressed to request the protection of legality, while the Association of Independent Electronic Media addressed the same request to the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office.