Photo: Cenzolovka

Trial of lady journalists facing prison over lawsuit filed by businessman and president’s godfather postponed again

October 31, 2022

The trial of Dragana Pećo and Vesna Radojević, investigative journalists of the portal KRIK, the Crime and Corruption Reporting Network, who are threatened with jailtime under the lawsuit filed by Nikola Petrović, a powerful businessman and godfather of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, began a year and a half ago, but must now be restarted following postponement.

The judge who has hitherto led proceedings has been replaced due to illness, which is why proceedings must restart from the beginning. The new judge used the last hearing, at which Petrović did not appear, to merely schedule the continuation of the trial on 23rd December.

Petrović sued the journalists in response to an article published in 2021 about his offshore company, via which he entered into business with controversial businessman Stanko Subotic, aka Cane, from whom he bought an airline at a reduced price.

Petrović isn’t using the lawsuit to seek financial compensation, but rather is demanding prison sentences for the lady journalists: two months for Pećo and one month for Radojević. This is one of 11 lawsuits filed against journalists and editors of KRIK, which they consider as being SLAPP lawsuits, i.e., ltrategic lawsuits against public participation.

The trial is being followed by organisation Reporters Without Borders, which has called on Serbia to fully implement the European Commission recommendations of April 2022, which contain preventive measures to protect journalists against SLAPP lawsuits and punish those responsible for filing them.