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

Retrial also results in guilty verdict against those accused of arson attack on journalist’s home

March 31, 2023

The retrial of those accused of setting fire to the house of journalist Milan Jovanović has ended with convictions: Dragoljub Simonović, former president of the Belgrade Municipality of Grocka, has been sentenced to five years in prison (the first instance trial saw him sentenced to four years and three months), Vladimir Mihailović was again sentenced to four years, Igor Novaković received three and a half years (previously four), and Aleksandar Marinković, as the direct perpetrator, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison (previously four years and three months).

The verdict is not binding. Apart from the convicted parties, prosecutor Predrag Milovanović also announced that he would lodge an appeal with the Court of Appeal, stating that he would seek harsher sentences for the accused: eight years for Simonović, five years each for Mihajlović and Novaković, and six years for Marinković.

Journalist Milan Jovanović, whose house was gutted in the 2018 arson attack, expressed his satisfaction with the verdict, saying that it indicates the coming arrival of “better days for freedom and peace”.

The Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation welcomed the verdict and expressed its expectation that it will be confirmed by the Court of Appeal as soon as possible. The verdict was also welcomed by the International Press Institute.