Photo: Predrag Mitic, SCF

Year of Postponed Trials

December 31, 2020

The word marking the year’s two most important trials being monitored by the media community, both in Serbia and around the world, was postponement.

None of the numerous hearings scheduled during November and December – for the murder of publisher and journalist Slavko Ćuruvija and for the arson attack on the home of Žig Info portal journalist Milan Jovanović – were held.

Illness – among defendants or judges – was the most common reason for cancelling these trials, in which an epilogue is awaited impatiently. This is particularly the case when it comes to the trial for the 1999 murder of Ćuruvija. The trial of the accused had lasted four years, only for a retrial to begin in October this year following a successful appeal process.

Milan Jovanović’s house was firebombed and burnt to the ground in December 2018. The trial, which began 20 months ago, has seen more hearings cancelled than held. Due to alleged exposure to the novel Coronavirus, firstly lawyers failed to turn up for hearings, then one of the accused, only for a series of reasons to suspend the trial being provided by chief defendant Dragoljub Simonović, former president of the Belgrade municipality of Grocka, who was prevented from attending due to toothache, with the presiding judge even expressing doubt in Simonović’s veracity. Interestingly, Jovanović’s legal team has long suspected that the cancellations of hearings are a result of obstruction on the part of the defendants’ lawyers and their clients.

The next hearing in the trial for the arson attack on Jovanović’s home has been scheduled for 11th January, while the trial for the murder of Ćuruvija is scheduled to resume in early February.