Dragoljub Simonović, former president of the Belgrade Municipality of Grocka (photo: Media Center Belgrade)

Politician speaks at trail, insults journalist whose house was set ablaze and threatens prosecutor that he will lose his job

December 16, 2019

Former Mayor of the Belgrade suburban municipality of Grocka and senior official of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, Dragoljub Simonović, speaking in his own defence in court, where he is accused of ordering an arson attack on the home of journalist Milan Jovanović a year ago, insulted the journalist in question and told the prosecutor that he “maybe won’t be working as a prosecutor any longer”.

In a testimony lasting nearly two hours, Simonović said the indictment was filled with untruths. Presenting himself as the victim of a media lynching, he dubbed the Žig info portal, where Jovanović published articles about scandals allegedly involving Simonović, as “racketeering” portal and called Jovanović a “frustrated old man without influence” who isn’t really a journalist.

He also said that he had no motive to order the burning of Jovanović’s house, because the articles published by Žig info didn’t cause him any harm, on the contrary, his party achieved increasingly better election results regardless. The fact remains, however, that Simonović has so far filed 16 lawsuits over published articles against Jovanović and Žig info, the first of which was filed a year before Jovanović’s house was set ablaze.

Jovanović’s house was firebombed on the night of 12th December 2018. With the help of donations from citizens, which were collected by the Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation, and with the help of journalists’ associations, the house has been partially renovated and he and his wife moved back in May 2019. He received no assistance of any kind from the state.