Foto: Marko Risović

SĆF urges prosecutor Dolovac to reconsider the decision regarding prosecutor Milovanović and thus contribute to the effective concluding of proceedings for the arson attack on a journalist’s home

April 22, 2021

The Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation is concerned over the decision of Republic Public Prosecutor Zagorka Dolovac to relieve Deputy Public Prosecutor Predrag Milovanović of his duty in the case of the arson attack on the house of journalist Milan Jovanović.

It is the undivided assessment of the public, the media community, and Milan Jovanović himself, that Deputy Prosecutor Milovanović has displayed exceptional professionalism and that his engagement and perseverance contributed to the reaching of a first instance verdict in what is one of the most important trials for an attack on a journalist in the last few years.

As announced today by Cenzolovka, Milovanović was prevented from continuing to work on the case until the declaring of a final verdict, despite his wish and insistence.

Zagorka Dolovac’s decision is a personal one. It was made legally, but didn’t have to be such, particularly given that other prosecutors engaged in the State Prosecutorial Council have been allowed to lead important cases like this one to their final, binding verdict.

This decision means that the indictment against Dragoljub Simonović and his accomplices for the arson attack on Milan Jovanović’s house will not be defended by the prosecutor who wrote it and knows the most about the case. At the same time, Judge Slavko Žugić, who completed the first-instance procedure, has retired, with the new judge in this case assigned two months after the first-instance verdict was reached.

Such an outcome for proceedings in the case of the arson attack of Jovanović’s house is concerning for all journalists who endure threats and attacks in Serbia and instils a sense of fear that this trial could turn into another marathon-like process, as is the one for the murder of Slavko Ćuruvija.

The removal of the acting prosecutor from a case that he had been handling from its very start is not a good message for the incomprehensible lack of punishment for attacks on journalists, which have become almost commonplace in Serbia. We therefore call on Republic Public Prosecutor Zagorka Dolovac to reconsider her decision, and thus contribute to the efficient concluding of the case.

Milan Jovanović and his wife, Jela Deljanin, deserve to receive justice as soon as possible. Likewise, journalists in Serbia, who are working under undue pressure and in fear of physical attack on a daily basis, must finally receive clear confirmation that they do indeed enjoy the full protection of the judicial system.