Municipal president remanded into custody suspected of ordering the firebombing of journalist’s home

January 31, 2019

A Belgrade court has ordered that Dragoljub Simonović, president of the Municipality of Grocka and a senior official of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, be detained for 30 days on suspicion of ordering the arson attack on the house of Milan Jovanović, a journalist of local portal Žig info, on 12th December 2018. The detention order was made to ensure the suspect could not influence witnesses or destroy evidence, or again commit a crime.

Simonović was arrested on Friday, 25th January, with the information announced to the public that same day by Serbian President and SNS party president Aleksandar Vučić. The arrest was welcomed by the OSCE, Reporters Without Borders, and associations of journalists.

Speaking before the court, Simonović denied any involvement in the attack on journalist Milan Jovanović and the burning of his house.

Jovanović has on several occasions publicly accused Simonović of orchestrating and ordering the attack on his house in response to news articles published on the Žig info portal related to corruption, crime and the defrauding of municipal funds during the installing of gas in this municipality, as well as in other cases.

The police previously arrested one direct perpetrator who admitted to having committed the crime, then three days later arrested the organiser and an accomplice who reached a guilty plea agreement with the prosecution after being arrested.