Photos: Marko Risović, SĆF

Protest rally “For Slavko Ćuruvija” following shocking acquittals for journalist’s murder

February 14, 2024

Around 700 citizens and journalists assembled in front of the Court of Appeal in Belgrade for a protest rally in response to the court’s 2nd February acquittal of four members of the State Security Department who were accused of the 1999 murder of journalist and publisher Slavko Ćuruvija.

The Serbian courts have to date never punished anyone for murdering or committing a serious crime against a journalist. The Ćuruvija murder trial only began in 2015, 16 years after the crime was perpetrated. It lasted almost nine years until the Court of Appeal’s acquittal ruling, which it brought despite the lower court having twice convicted the defendants and sentenced them to a total of 100 years in prison.

The Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation dubbed the verdict shocking. Similar reactions also came from media outlets and journalists, journalists’ associations from Serbia and around the world, the OSCE, European Commission, Council of Europe and others.

The protest included the unfurling of a flag in front of the entrance to the courthouse with the inscription “You have killed justice, but the truth lives”.

Addressing those gathered, SĆF executive director Ivana Stevanović said that this rally was a way “for us to show the system how hurt we are by this unjust verdict,” while she also noted that citizens and journalists had been rendered speechless by the fact that “the murder of Slavko Ćuruvija remains an unpunished crime”.

Participants stood in silence for 25 minutes, thus commemorating the 25-year wait for justice that still hasn’t come since 1999, when Ćuruvija was gunned down in the passageway in front of the Belgrade building where he lived. Among those gathered were the murdered journalist’s daughter, Jelena Ćuruvija, together with her husband and Slavko’s grandchild. They will never see justice brought, given that this verdict is final.

“The verdict is deeply distressing to the family, friends, colleagues and admirers of this journalist and publisher who was murdered for publicly criticizing the criminal regime of Slobodan Milošević. This court ruling represents a clear sign that the state is incapable of dealing with the darkest parts of its own services from the ‘90s, and that those same services still have a huge influence over both the judiciary and political processes in Serbia,” explains a SĆF statement.