Police have approved protection for journalist Milan Jovanović just a few days after the individual suspected of firebombing his house was released from custody.
Jovanović’s house, in the Belgrade suburb of Vrčin, was set ablaze on 12thDecember last year, while prosecutors suspect the attack may have been ordered by the president of the Belgrade suburban municipality of Grocka, Dragoljub Simonović, a powerful local figure who’s also the president of the local branch of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party. He was arrested on 25th January.
Simonović’s release from custody, where he spent about six weeks, was met by criticism from journalists’ associations, as well as organisation Reporters Without Borders. The release prompted Jovanović – a journalist of local portal Žig info who has repeatedly written about affairs involving this local leader – to fear for his personal safety.
The Association of Journalists of Serbia and the Standing Working Group for the Security of Journalists requested that permanent police protection be approved for Jovanović, as well as his colleague and fellow portal journalist Željko Martočević, who was physically assaulted several months ago.
Jovanović confirmed that he will be protected in his every movement from now by several police officers. This was preceded by protection in the form of a police patrol assigned to maintain a presence in front of the building in which he resides. This security measure was introduced after intruders broke into the apartment during the night after he moved in following the arson attack on his house.
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