DOKAZ ep. 3 – Sud sedme sile – CELA EPIZODA (HD)

DOKAZ ep. 3 – Sud sedme sile – CELA EPIZODA (HD)


THE PROOF Command ”by storm“, famous shout
ALL, ALL, ALL, of the then opposition leader Vuk Draskovic and tens of
thousands of citizens against water cannons first, and then the real
ones – marked March 9, 1991, and the first serious public
resistance of the citizens of Serbia towards
Milosevic’s autocratic regime. After more than a quarter of a
century, there are few of those who remember that the real motive
for mass protests was, in fact, the request for dismissal of four
editors of the then TV Belgrade, that were marked responsible
for various media judgements, including that opposition leaders
are “an extended arm of Ustashas”. Back then, they were accused most
often for treason, and if you can’t do that, then accuse someone
of riding a priest in the village without
any church or parish. Real wars and real killings from
the nineties were certainly more horrible than the confilicts that will
eventually transfer to the media. But it is ironic that the allegations
launched during March 9 protests, seem almost naive, after all that
was experienced, and published in the media since then
till the present day. During the nineties, one center
of power existed more or less, a kind of period when media
spinning and everything connected with some kind of
manipulation was only emerging. We didn’t have this kind of
organized tabloid journalism. Media represent a story that is
a mistery to me even though I am in this business for the last 30
years. I don’t know what media are. It is difficult to say what media are,
and what are the instruments for the production of some kind of
results which, in fact, do not have much in common
with normal media activity. It turned out that the process
of conquering media freedom for several decades brought
some counter effects as well. Nowadays, the laws, as much as
good they are, are not implemented. Unlike this, in the late nineties,
the implementation of the Law, specifically Law on Information,
presented formal media blackout. This blackout carried some
sacrifices within itself. The most horrible law is Seselj’s
Law from the late nineties, introduced solely for the purpose
of the regime cracking down on a few independent
media that were left. Main mechanism for cracking down
on the media was introduction of draconian penalties for defamation.
Sometimes, those were huge financial amounts, and sometimes
seizure of properties of the persons in charge of
the media, while sometimes it also included prison sentence. We had completely inadequate
deadlines for acitons imposed, where you are guilty if
you do not prove that what you’ve said was true,
within 48 hours. Within 48 hours, you won’t be able
to prove even that white is white, while black is black, let alone
some more complicated claim. Most drastic example is the case
of “Daily Telegraph” and Weekly “European”, of Belgrade journalist
and publisher Slavko Curuvija. Unfortunately, we had state media
that presented him as traitor, someone who is against his people,
who brought NATO air raids, so they tried to make him
bad in public, a villain. All culminated with the death
of Slavko Curuvija, and this is an indicator as to how far the
regime of Slobodan Milosevic is prepared to go in cracking
down on journalism. This is the law that destroyed several
media outlets, that had as direct consequence the killing of Slavko
Curuvija, and consequently, contributing to the collapse
of journalism that we, as it seems, hadn’t been able to overcome
up to the present moment. Recovery should have presented the
fact that after the fall of Milosevic’s regime, many provisions of the
Law on Information from 1998, Constitutional Court declared
as not being in accordance with the international law
and thus, unconstitutional. It was much harder to reconcile
the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy
with protection of reputation. It was claimed that out of
fear for being held responsible for defamation, journalists avoid
taking up researching various affairs or revealing data that
could be deemed as critical towards powerful people
or some politicians. Won media freedoms were not
always followed with responsible, professional journalism.
Political conflicts were transferred onto the press pages, and media
depicted also the war between the cabinets of President Vojislav
Kostunica and Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, while Djindjic
was much more demonized than during Milosevic’s reign. How many defamations I should put
up with in this country for a court to state: “Let’s determine what is true.
It is possible that Al Capone’s grand daughter emerges, claiming:
My grand dad was robbing banks under instructions
of Zoran Djindjic”. It is obvious that basically media
created context and atmosphere in which it was socially acceptable
to lay a hand on Zoran Djindjic. For less than two and a half years,
during which he served as Prime Minister prior to being
assassinated, according to the data of Ebart Media
Documentation, significant national media depicted
Djindjic in 3259 articles. Those were mainly
expressly negative texts, while in some cases, he was
even linked wih the mafia. Serbia neither loved nor understood
Zoran Djindjic, until he was killed. So, majority of people in Serbia
were inclined to take for granted headhunt, demonization and brutal
smearing of political opponents. Today, assassinations are not
executed with a bullet, nowadays, if someone on the public
scene is bothering you, you can make a butcher,
criminal or murderer out of him just over night. To claim something that is
not true or slandering someone or slandering someone by
jeopardizing his honor and respect, this is a very serious crime,
in my opinion. In 23 out of 28 EU states,
libel is a criminal offense. Its depenalization was not so easily
introduced in Serbia as well. The attempt to eliminate defamation
in the course of introducing new Criminal Law in 2005
was only partially successful. Depenalization was accepted, i. e.
prison sentence for libel was abolished, but defamation and libel
were still treated criminal offenses. While we had criminal responsibility
for defamation, there were numerous cases,
ending up in different ways. Many people had sued for
defamation – from the showbiz to public figures,
businessmen and politicians. There was also immense number of
judgements via media statements. There were lots of articles that
mentioned responsibility of certain people from political or economic
circles, while later on, they were not found guilty, there wasn’t even
grounds for launching procedure. Most drastic case of those times
was four-year war waged between Radisav Raja Rodic, the owner of
„Kurir“ and „Glas javnosti“, and the then Minister of
Finance, Mladjan Dinkic. With his public statements,
Dinkic often judged people, but more than any other
politician, he was the target of numerous attacks,
including slanders. Slanders were mainly tied with
certain money that ended up in Cyprus, followed by affairs
pertaining to National Savings Bank. Several years later, the public
would find out that Prosecution led investigation against Mladjan
Dinkic as well, but in late 2016, they withdraw the charges in
case of National Savings Bank. There is not a single political,
business, criminal or any other interest group in this country
that do not abuse media directly, and it is horrible that so
many media are completely willing to meet their
needs in any way. It was unanimously concluded
that media and media freedom were abused, but the new
Act on Public Information from 2009 contributed
to major divisions. Initiated by Dinkic’s G17 Plus,
this Law introduced significantly increased penalties
to the media. „When tomorrow some media
company is banned, media founders will open up wool fibers shop,
or sell pies, bread, buns, they will take up
some other business, and what will you do?
Sell seeds? This was followed by an ironic
situation in which parties in power that deem themselves as democratic
voted for this Law, while Socialist Party of Serbia, claiming
that it learns by its mistakes from the past – remained
reserved. To make this situation even more paradoxical,
the then opposition progressive representative Aleksandar Vuèiæ
said that this new Law is worse than the Law in 1998, when he was
appointed Minister of Information. „This is Tadic’s Law on Information.
Do not blame it on Dinkic, he is just a pawn in all this mess.
This is Boris Tadic restricting human rights and freedom of
information, after so many years“. Although, with the change
of power in 2012 Dinkic will again become minister, the aftermath of
media headhunts influenced his mandate ending in the course
of the first government reconstruction, when he completely
withdrew from the media. At some point, citizens lose interest
to follow certain affair for which they see no ending, but those
affairs certainly made Dinkic actually disappear
from the political scene. Dirty media campaigns, however,
were not over in times of rigid Law on Information, just as presumption
of innocence was violated. This right stating that no one is
guilty till it is proved by court verdict, is guaranteed in Serbia by
accepted international conventions, the Constitution, all criminal laws,
including Law on Information. There are double logics here.
One pertains to protecting one’s personal dignity possible media
coverage refers to, while on the other hand, the work of
courts is also being protected, along with their integrity
and reputation. “I couldn’t take it anymore”, doctor
Nenad Borojevic stated in his brief suicide note, prior to hanging
himself in early January 2012, six days prior to giving the final
word in the process led against him and a group
of physicians for allegedly taking bribe from
pharmaceutical companies. When I hear media persecution, the
case with cytostatics came to mind. According to the charges,
bid-rigging took place in the period from 2007 to 2009, while the
police arrested them in 2010, within the action called „The Crab“
that should even with its title remind of the activities in the
Institute for Oncology and Radiology, headed by Borojevic. The media had raised tension in
public writing about children being poisoned by the physicians although
this was not mentioned in the case. This impression was additionally
strengthened by the statement of Ivica Dacic, the then Minister of
Internal Affairs, who informed the public that Dr Borojevic and his
associates “were suspected of prescribing much
more medicines than their patients needed
in order to boost its consumption”. What I heard about Dr Borojevic is
that he was rejected even by his colleagues, he was guilty without
being found guilty, while he had suffered the consequences as if
being accused of such serious criminal offense.
He was proclaimed a child killer. Only a day after Nenad Borojevic’s
body was found in the woods of Kosutnjak, Acting Director of the
Institute for Oncology, Dr Zoran Rakocevic stated in the interview
given to weekly NIN that it was determined that there
was no abuse with cytostatics. Four years later, Court of
Appeal had legally released the last man
accused in this specific case. After more than five years of court
trial, prosecution dropped charges in the case of Vaccine, in which
former General Manager of the Republic Health Fund,
Svetlana Vukajlovic, along with three other people, was
suspected of bid-rigging for the vaccine
against swine flu. The media judge them all
at the beginning of the affair. Media reported on all that
competent authorities stated, without trying to get to the bottom
of the problem and without attempting to determine the truth. Media in general cover judicial
themes in a sensational manner, and some of them understood that
this is something that media need, and that it is evident that
the public has short-term interest for the issues. At the beginning of the procedure,
leading people in the Ministry made efforts to invent the case altogether,
to talk publicly that someone took the commission, while in the criminal
charges, no one was ever accused of taking anything. When the
Minister of Justice gives such statements, what can we expect
from the investigative judge? To act independently? With the change of power in 2012,
people from Democratic Party felt the consequences of
such circumstances. If you are member of Democratic
Party, such climate was created that you were either a thief,
or a liar, or gay. They simply pull you through this
media mud, through media gauntlet. Former Minister of Ecology, Oliver
Dulic, faced with looks full of hatred being thrown towards him on
the street, by his own admission. They first attempted to prove that
he is not clean by the campaign “Let’s clean Serbia”,
led by his Ministry. I believe that Dulic filled front
pages of the press for two months, as thousands of articles were written
accusing him for diverse offenses. Among other things, I remember
that he was accused of stealing girlfriend from Darko Saric, alleged
accusations were rather bizarre. Significantly more serious media
judgement prior to court proceedings Dulic faced with
in the case of „Nuba invest“ linked with issuing license
for optical network. Several years later, he was not
pardoned for finding a job in the field of his
medical profession. In one paper, you have a headline
“this man is invincible”. Wait, what this means? Should we
kill Oliver Dulic just to prevent him from being active in his profession?
What it means to be invincible? It means that we failed
to destroy him. Presidents that had led Democratic
Party after the former President Boris Tadic, had undergone
even worse situations, according to general judgement. “Unfortunately, it happens in this
state, that DS and me personally as its president are being
exposed to the biggest lynching for the last 12 months.
If it is stated for full 10 days on the public state broadcaster
that I had robbed the mother of my children, that I killed
a friend while he was asleep, if there are texts in the press saying
that “a member of Pajtic gang” was caught in Croatia carrying EUR
500.000, while Croatian Ministry of Interior confirmed today that
there is no citizen of Serbia caught with such amount of
money, meaning not even „Pajtic guy“, then we find ourselves
in a situation in which the results of the elections are such that
are only possible and logical. I don’t recall that such a monstruous
smear campaign was ever conducted in Serbia as it was led against
Dragan Djilas before me, and against me when I succeeded him as
the President of Democratic Party. Bojan Pajtic had never filed
complaint to the Press Council. Dragan Djilas did, and he won all
his cases, so, we ruled in his favor. You do remember what a rascal this
Djilas guy was. You could not open any paper without seeing that Djilas
robbed someone, Djilas is a tycoon, Djilas did this, Djilas did that… Where’s court proceedings
against Djilas? Smear campaign against Dragan
Djilas stopped immediately when he stepped down from his position
of President of Democratic Party. From that moment on, he was not
the worst, horrible criminal, I had become all that instead. The fact that autonomy always,
as in the case of Vojvodina, represents a sensitive issue,
served as a motive for accusing Pajtic of separatism. You can expect that someone shoot
at you for being called separatist. Wait a minute, if this one is
separatist, and if he wants to secede part of Serbia,
let me be his judge. Weekly “Affair” dealt intensely with
the presence of gay persons on our political scene, and in this context,
it specially focused on the former President of the Provincial
Government, Bojan Pajtic. Moreover, Pajtic was accused of
being a traitor for spending summer holiday on Brioni, the level of his
insolation was measured, but it was the hardest for him when photos of
his family members were published. If someone who is a public figure
has to be exposed, his children and his family do not, so we must
find a reasonable measure here. The gravest accusations were,
however, linked with the case of “Heterland“ named after a castle
which reconstruction should have provided the accommodation
for children with disabilities. The project worth RSD 156
million is still underway, while Pajtic is still being
depicted as the main culprit. This is so monstrous that I would
really like to see a person who thought of this idea to accuse
me of such a thing. This accusation makes me sick. This thesis is so scary and I will be
the first who woud like to crucify this Bojan Pajtic I read
about in the tabloids, as he is the biggest
criminal ever. Being disgusted with what has
been published in the media, former Minister of
Telecommunications Jasna Matic had experienced imprisonment. She was arrested in 2014, along with
other three people that used to be heading Agency for export
promotion and foreign investments SIEPA in the period
from 2006 to 2013. They were suspected of damaging
the budget of Serbia for around RSD 120 million, based on the
“contract on non-existing copyright works”, obtaining material benefit
amounting to RSD 90 million. I did not want to read the
newspapers. But, I know that there were more than 420 articles
and news prior to our arrest, only in the media with national
coverage, explaining we were guilty. The hardest words have been used,
such as thieves, robbery, defalcation, seizure, I was advised
to admit everything, or to be prepared
to die in prison. The essence of our tabloids, political
tabloids, I mean, is to judge you without even being arrested,
so that tomorrow, when you are actually arrested,
the public will accept your custody much more positively, as they are
already convinced in your guilt. The consequences of smear
campaigns in the media are not at all naive, as threats from
the print often easily transfer into the everyday life. Starting with the fact that I am
no longer employed, that people on the street threatened me,
swore at me, explained that it is a sin to let me live, and that I
should better commit suicide, etc… Some people from the media simply
do not care what tomorrow brings. They have no sense as to how strong
media influence and media power is. Long term judicial reforms hadn’t
improved those circumstances, or the new Law on Public
Information. It was adopted two years after the coalition led
by Serbian Progressive Party had come to power.
Ruling majority had decriminalized libel with the
amendments of Criminal Law. It is positive that libel was
decriminalized, as the purpose of this whole procedure
was wrong from the start. Decriminalization of libel is a good
thing, as libel as a criminal offense was largely abused, and generally
the basis of verbal delict and punishment for publicly
spoken words. The possibility of journalists ending
up in prison was avoided. It turned out that decriminalization
of libel brought negative effects, too. Libel had become common,
integral part of editorial policy of many media. They simply did
not choose means in fighting their opponents, ready to pay
any kind of penalty or fine. When you use freedom to
expression beyond the limits prescribed by the Constitution,
then you jeopardize the rights of others, and letting this happen
is actually human rights violations, instead of building human rights. We have satisfying legal framework,
but the effects are not as designed. I refer to the inadequate way
of implementing the law. However, we have other problems,
i. e. court practice. Compensations for the persons or
organizations that were significantly damaged by publishing certain
contents are so miserable that Informer can pay
for it from the back pocket. Someone weathy enough can calmly
libel other people, and pay fines regulary, thus paying
damages in some ways, but this is not the solution. The fact that freedom of speech is
opposite to yet another right – right to privacy, contributes
to higher manipulation. The right to privacy,
as universal human right, has been taken care of within
international conventions and local legislation, while its
protection represents crucial standard of journalistic ethics. Everyone is entitled
to the right to privacy. In practice, however, the right to
privacy is being so often violated in the media, which is being
justified with media freedom. As a rule, we don’t have clear
situation here, one right that needs to be protected, we have to resort
to a kind of making delicate balance, measuring which right is
more important in each case. This ambiguous situation is being
used by those who accomplish their goals through the media,
as well as media themselves, fighting in such a way for bigger
circulation and audience shares. Victim of a sensational story,
which according to majority of people, was shameful,
was actor Goran Jevtic who was demonized
in the media. This man was marked on the cover
of daily Blic as a gay-pedophile, accused for entering into sexual
relations with a 15 year boy without his consent, in the public
toilet of the Theatre in Sombor. We had just published the fact that
the mother of this boy from Sombor filed criminal charges against him
under suspicion of abusing her child. Both journalistic associations
had condemned Blic writing, in separate media statements. We faced with lots of resistence
within the newsdesk, a day after we published this story. Still, Tanjug News Agency had
passed on this information, so the other media
followed their example. It happens very rarely that a public
figure, who is not a politician, is so targeted in the media as
the actor Goran Jevtic was. Part of audience was convinced that
politics had interfered in this case, meaning that Jevtic was targeted
for his political standpoints in which only a few days earlier, in the
interview given on the premiere of the theatre performance
“Madam Minister”, he criticized present politicians.
Lawyers’ Association for Human Rights – YUCOM hadn’t entered
into these evaluations, but expressed appeal to the Press Council
for violating Press Code. Six months after Blic writing,
the indictment followed, so there were not enough
elements for such headlines, and we can even say that
media campaign had influenced the prosecutor to launch
the procedure. Violation of the presumption of
innocence would be stated even if the Press Council made that
decision on a later occasion, as it had done six
months earlier. If we are all going to respect
presumption of innocence in the papers, then nobody
would ever write anything with regards to
any possible criminal offense. It’s impossible to write. Majority of them think that if they
respect presumption of innocence, they would have nothing to
write about. This is not true. Despite the ban, media
constantly violate it. This precise article is being violated
more than all other articles together. This is something that appears in
Serbian press ten times per day. I don’t know any other act that is so
brutally violated as the Press Code. It is a shame that this happens,
but that is the truth. Journalists violate this Press Code,
violating the rules that they should respect and stick to them as Bible,
partly due to ignorance, partly due to their fight for circulation, partly
due to wishing to beat competition. This has nothing to do with the fact
whether journalists are aware of the presumption of innocence
and its meaning, as it is clear that they
know what it refers to. I am more inclined to believe
that media cater to the taste of the majority. In our culture,
the one who is just a suspect is essentially guilty.
We don’t make a difference. Sometimes it happens because
journalists and the media want to fulfill some political
or other interest or goal. In such designed atmosphere,
everything is possible. There are no rules, this is
horrible environment. The case of Ognjanovic family is
a perfect example that hidden interests, public smearing,
and battle for audience share and print runs
is being conducted also on the foundations of personal
dramas and family tragedies. Smearing campaign in the media
is not something typical for Serbia, but something so brutal was
not seen on the European soil. In spring 2013, the story of little
Tijana had united Serbia and the region in a desire to save
child’s life by collecting money for her depature to
a heart transplant in Houston. Huge fund-raising campaign was
launched, public figures joined in, and it was so nice and positive that
it brought a glimmer of optimism and hope that we can show
solidarity, that we are aware of someone else’s needs
and problems, etc. In numerous campaigns, more
than EUR 2.6 million was raised. Nevertheless, in Houston Hospital,
Tijana hadn’t lived enough to undergo surgery.
She died on July 15, 2013. However, general sorrow was soon
replaced with the shock caused by tabloids’ accusations of her parents,
claiming that great misuse of the large amounts of this sum
has happened in this case. They had crossed the line of
humanity, and all that has been done previously
had become meaningless. Media attacks caused thorough
investigation. Without waiting for its conclusion, even the Minister
of interior Nebojsa Stefanovic took part in this campaign, claiming
that “Tijana’s parents enabled suppliers to ‘take a stake’
amounting to EUR 320.000”. The best possible answer to the
campaign that was launched in the media is the information that
prosecutor’s office informed the public that there is no evidence
against Ognjanovic family for continuing with
the procedure. In one of rare media appearances,
Ognjanovics spoke about pressures they have been exposed
to from all sides. They revealed that their family
was pressured by the policemen who interrogated them
during investigation. Legally, this money belonged
to Ognjanovic family, but from the moral aspect, they had
never been in dilemma about it, stating that they will give the money
to children, but not to the state, as in that case, the money
will not get to those in need. Her parents donated the sum of
around EUR 1.6 millon, that was left on the account after Tijana’s
death, to the Institute for Mother and Child Health Care, where
the girl was treated for six years. Press Code of Ethics was violated
5.500 times just in the past year, it is 2,000 times more than in 2015.
The number of articles that violated presumption of innocence also
increased, while the practice of making judgements without court
proceedings became even worse. Sometimes, we all behave as if we
try to determine the boundaries, and we always make
an extra step further from what seems
sensible and decent. On the other hand, number of
complaints of those judged by the media in advance in such
articles is incomparably smaller. Simply, they do not want to make
their lives even more complicated. Accordingly, they want to get it
over with as soon as possible. This shows that the citizens had
reconciled with the possibility that presumption of innocence will
be violated, and they take it as an integral part of
journalism, the practice against which
nothing can be done. It is necessary that we impose public
standpoint that someone is not guilty until proved otherwise,
truly innocent. However, it is the other
way around in practice. Many media, hiding behind public
interest, violate basic human rights of the people
they report about. Difference between public interest
and interest of the public is not even recognized. It is one thing if something is
justified public interest, and it is totally different thing
what is public interested in. There is no math formula that would
clearly and easily elaborate on this. In this game between public interest
and something called newspaper’s circulation and audience
share, the latter wins. The analysis of Press Council shows
that reporters covering the so-called “black or criminal chronicles” most
often violate Press Code, closely followed by those who
cover show business. The murder of the folk singer Jelena
Marjanovic combined those two categories, bringing this case into
the annals of Serbian journalism. This is the case with which we had
touched the bottom. This is the level that I thought we would not reach
ever: that a person becomes popular due to her
ending up dead. We have all the elements of criminal
story. We have a celebrity, an unresolved case, lots of things
that could attract public attention in diverse ways, as it is
extremely brutal crime. On behalf of the family, one of the
members of the Commission for complaints had filed complaint to
the Press Council against four media. In all cases, the presumption
of innocence had been violated. This was the case within as
much as hundred texts only in the first month of reporting
about the case of murdered singer. The situation hadn’t changed
in the months that followed. This is the case due to which
many media would barely survive if the courts in this country
are working properly. If it turns out that family
members are innocent, if someone is sentenced
for murder, not being member of Marjanovic family, they would
be entitled to sue the media till doomsday which made them
guilty for the murder of Jelena Marjanovic, calling them sectarians,
criminals, lunatics, psychopaths. However, not a single media
had experienced any major consequences, while the
circulation and audience share boosted with
every publication. This shuffle reached the level of
press conferences of state officials. There are certain operational
findings that the police came up with, meaning that the investigation
made progress compared to what we’ve had last night, of course,
as it is an ongoing investigation, I cannot disclose any details,
but we will give our best to try to resolve this case
as soon as possible. Two days prior to elections, Prime
Minister had addressed the public claiming that the name of the
murderer will be announced within 24 or 48 hours. As soon as tomorrow, Prime Minsiter
corrected himself with appealing to the police not to publish the results
of the investigation prior to Parliamentary elections, in order
to avoid any speculations. However, the name of the murderer
was not published at all. I believe that Prime Minister actually
wanted to defend the police and the whole system by telling us that
we actually know who did it, but unfortunately have no proof. The lack of evidence was evident in
many other cases of public arrests, but this does not prevent the
practice of depriving suspects from liberty in front of cameras
for almost a decade. We haven’t invented arrests
in front of the cameras, we just improved it
in a negative way. Public arrests serve to
discipline ordinary citizens. This manner is being established
expecially since 2007, in Vojislav Kostunica’s government, a lawyer
and a man that called himslelf a firm legalist. Numerous media arrests were
executed back then: Dragan Dzajic, our famous football player, Rade
Terzic, former District Attorney, arrests of the members of various
mobs, bankruptcy and road mafia… Recording the arrests could be also
marked as a classic media ambush. In spring 2008, series of public
arrests opens up the case of Ratko Buturovic president of Football
Club “Vojvodina” and the owner of Novi Sad based hotel “Park”.
Known under the alias Bata Kan Kan, with whose name
many controversial businesses were linked, Buturovic was
suspected of being one of the organizers
of “football mafia”. Just the mere beginning of the court
trial will show, however, that he was on trial for setting up one
match, and for illegal obtaining of material gain amounting to
a modest sum of EUR 5.000. Those recordings undoubtedly
violated human rights of the persons suspected
for some offense. Police recordings of the arrest of
sports legends Dragan Dzajic and Vladimir Cvetkovic
represent unacceptable precedent in the memory of
majority of people. The then assessment of the political
elite was that they would have benefited in a poltical sense in
case they present those two in as much as possible
indecent light. I had a chance to talk to him about
this and I believe that he said to me that the policeman who arrested
him apologized for what will follow. Dzajic, Cvetkovic and the third
“Zvezda” official – Milos Marinkovic, spent full five months in prison. The detention in itself was
rather disputable, not to mention someone’s need to
present it as great success, showing it to the masses
via television. Maybe due to all this, the abolition
with which this case was finalized in 2012, with the decision
of President Nikolic caused sporadic questions
on its justification. With Serbian Progressive Party
coming to power, the recordings of police arrests had become
almost standard media content. In this country, public is something
that only the police want to be public, while the police abuse it. While the apprehension of more
than 400 people, suspected of drug trade was never
disputed, public arrests of more than dozens of people
suspected for corruption, in the police campaigns entitled
“Scanner” 1 and 2, “Cutter” 1 and 2 had caused polemics, moreover
as it will turn out that in most cases, the charges were not
pressed afterwards. It is most effective to show arrested
men, to mention certain names, to play with some numbers,
and it is really very cheap. As what you state now
hadn’t undergone any testing. I have one question always – what
will happen to these men if it turns out that they are innocent? Finally, what will happen to them
if they are guilty? Because the fact that someone is guilty
does not mean that I, as a viewer, have to see
him in his underware, with stretched legs,
and with police boot on his back. Minister Stefanovic justified
arrest recordings with the control of police procedures.
Expert public claims that this is
substitution of theses. The problem arises at the
moment when those recordings leak or are published. If you
arrest a person in such a way, you jeopardize presumption of
innocence thus, and instead of presumption of innocence, you
create, to say the least, media presumption of guilt. Public arrests are often additionally
strengthened by the statements of the politicians. I am afraid that this is called
symbiosis in biology. Politics and journalists draw positive
juices from each other. This began somewhere in the
nineties, and it reached its peak after 2000, and the main cause
for this is the fact that in Serbia criminal prosecution is treated
as means in a political battle. Politicians, in general, should not
be the ones who inform us whether the investigation is ongoing or not,
let alone which evidence is collected and in what way. Unfortunately,
this became common practice. One of the undoubtedly most
illustrative examples is the case of Delta Holding owner,
Miroslav Miskovic. Miroslav Miskovic was dragged along
for three years as he was one of the main political trump cards
for the current state leadership. We are going to sentence
Miroslav Miskovic, meaning that we are going to fight corruption,
to fight tycoons. There was not a single moment,
starting with pre-election billboards, commercials, marketing, nor
had any serious political event been carried out in which
Miskovic was not underlined as the role model for
fighting corruption. One of the wealthiest Serbs
was accused for abuses in numerous privatizations, for bribing
politicians, for cooperation with drug boss Darko Saric, and even
for threatening the First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar
Vucic while being arrested. ”The police had informed me what
Mr. Miskovic said this morning enraged, but I barely put up with
the security that I already have, so I am not interested in this,
but I find more important that it turned out that in Serbia
two things proved to be true: that no one is protected,
and that nobody is untouchable, and the other thing is
that the state is stronger than any of us individually. “ With this statement, we create
environment in which it does not matter at all whether someone
is justifiably arrested or not, whether he is justifiably accused or
not, whether there are evidence or not, the only thing that matters is
final result which is being most often announced and
promised publicly. In the end, the whole campaign
and this great interest of public is reduced to a relatively
banal sentence and judgement that is still not in effect, so
we shouldn’t discuss it at all. The case of Dragoslav Kosmajac
was significantly less pompously finalized, who was not just an issue
of the day prior to being arrested in front of the cameras. Dominant
topic of the press conference in June 2014 was dismissals
of all heads of police administrations that previously
experienced media judgement. On this occasion, now
Prime Minister Vucic, while illustrating internal
resistance in the police, stated that the biggest drug dealer
in Serbia is still at large. “Let’s see who is linked with
Kosmajac, why you all pretend not to know who is the biggest
drug dealer in Serbia? All of you are afraid and silent
about police contacts with him, and from other agencies.
I say loudly and clear: arrest Kosmajac, arrest Vavic,
arrest this one, arrest that one! “ I don’t see it as interference as
he does not address the judiciary with those messages, but
the public, his supporters. In that sense, I don’t see it as
an issue. The problem is when you try to exert pressure on
the judiciary out of the public eye. Someone perceived this as judging,
while someone regarded it as unintentional signaling. Kosmajac
had first gone to Montenegro, but several months later,
he got arrested. The case of Dragoslav Kosmajac
is an illustrative example as in this case all features of our legal
and media systems are transparent. So, first we have Prime Minister
stating something that is out of his competence, it is followed by
an arrest, in which Dragoslav Kosmajac’s basic human
rights are being violated, then we have media smearing
campaign supporting this case in which it is being proved that
Kosmajac is actually European Escobar, and finally,
we have court proceedings, that is to say,
we don’t have it at all. Less than two years after
the spectacular arrest, the court had rejected the
indictment that accuses Kosmajac of being guilty
for tax evasion amounting to more than RSD 500.000. In late 2016, court trial was
launched under significantly lenient accusation – that he
had incited head of cadaster to register around 7.5 acres
of land as his property. It is not bad when the statements
are given by Minister of Police and Public Prosecutor. It is much more
important that we are presented with realistic information, that are
not such that someone is being indicted or freed in advance. When the accusations are not
publicly disclosed, unnamed sources come into play. As in many other fields of life,
in journalism as a profession, the easiest moves are frequently
being made. It is the easiest to say that you got information from
“unnamed” source, and that can often be a means for manipulation,
for sensational reporting. This is a trend that exists in Serbia,
that certain data from investigations leak. Often, the sources of those
information are certain officials. I was faced with several situations,
drastic ones, where the information from my cases leaked directly from
someone in court. For instance, the way in which certain council
had voted appeared from time to time in public, what decision will be
made… This is simply unacceptable. It is obvious that information,
especially those that are part of secret policy of Serbia exist,
and are being manipulated, meaning that those
who possess them, try to trade them
and gain political power. Information leaks as it was
in someone’s interest to leak. This information leak sometimes
happens in agreement with journalists and editors close to
ruling structures, close to the police, and then,
they simply negotiate what they should made public
and what they shouldn’t. Police is being most often accused
of information leak, simply because the police is most often in
the possession of those information. It is not possible that one media
outlet has so much information on someone, without getting it from the
police. It is absolutely impossible. They could have gotten it from
Information Security Agency or from police, as majority of those
documents is collected via hearings. The Police was the source of
information that served as the announcement for arresting
former mayor of Novi Sad, Borislav Novakovic, 42 days prior to
him being placed in custody due to accusation that he damaged budget
of Novi Sad for EUR 4 million. Three journalists of daily Kurir
had confirmed this in court. They had stated it on the court,
and it was recorded in the minutes. If the elements of the contents of
criminal charges are leaked and end up on the covers of certain
paper, someone from the police committed two criminal offenses.
The first one is abuse of office, and the second,
disclosure of official secret. Until today, it was not determined
who is unidentified person from the police against who Novakovic
filed criminal charges. In the meantime, in March 2017,
Novakovic was sentenced to three and a half prison sentence,
to which he will file complaint to the Court of Appeal. It is still just
rumored about abuse of office of those who illegaly give away
and disclose information. What seems to happen with our
tabloids is not information leaking. They are given information directly
from the top of the institution, from the top of the police, and often,
not even from that source, but politicans take over those police
files and submit it to the tabloids. No one will come from the police
to reveal something to me out of being human, and because he
wants me to know the truth. No. With information leak,
something will be accomplished. Very often, journalists and
media are being used for placing information
that represent spinning. Unnamed sources had their own
journalists, and vice versa. So, the thing with unnamed
sources is a charade, as the final outcome
is also a charade. I wouldn’t blame the media.
The biggest guilt lies in those who do not give away
those information. Prosecution has relatively passive
role in the whole procedure. The Law had envisaged the
protection of the source of information, so that the media can
accomplish public interest. Journalist can have alternative
sources of information that he is not forced to reveal,
and that doesn’t have to be official. What seems to be crucial
is whether the information got in such a way should
be published as this is required by the interest of
the public. Public interest was something that
Network for investigating corruption and criminal KRIK had referred to
when they re-activated Banana affair, with one of the actors being
former Minister of Interior, and later on
Prime Minister, and current Minister
of Foreign Affairs – Ivica Dacic. We didn’t had in mind to stir any
affair, we had an idea instead to direct public attention to the one
of the greatest problems that exist in this country and that is relation
between organized crime and politics on the highest level. In September, 2015, KRIK
published on its website secret video footage which,
after years of speculations, prove that Dacic had conversation
with Rodoljub Radulovic, better known as Misha Banana, member
of criminal gang of Darko Saric, who was, in the meantime,
sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. The whole point of our publishing
this was surely to inform the public about it, but we also hoped
for the police taking action, along with prosecutor’s office,
instead of what really has been going on, that total mess
on political scene was made. Dacic refuted the secrecy of the
meeting, he accused former coalition partner for reviving this
affair, but the issue on the contents of the conversation remained
unanswered, as well as the responsibility of
those who leaked information from secret service. Recording that we managed to get
hold of do not come solely from the security agency. State Security
information agency made them, but those recordings
had long ago leaked from it, and lots of persons had them.
It went in politicians’ favor especially to those who are featuring
in those recording, to be discussed who leaked it, how and what is
behind it, thus avoiding to speak about the contents of
the recording itself. Unfortunately, they had
succeeded in this. Media spinning will soon divert
attention towards Dojcinovic caused by KRIK’s series on mayor
of Belgrade and close associate of the then Prime Minister
Aleksandar Vucic. This is series of three texts, “24
apartments” is the most famous, but we also had another two good
stories linked with privatization in the period when Sinisa Mali led
one major sector within Agency for Privatization, which are being
treated as corruption. Unnamed source had delivered
secret recordings to Informer, to be followed by a series of
media target that this tabloid had drawn for days on
the forehead of journalist Dojcinovic. At that point, some recordings were
published, made probably a year ago, when he was under surveillance
and it was not in the interest of the public to reveal the information
on the concrete journalist, but they opt for discrediting him
instead, meaning underestimating him which, actually, represents
the abuse of this right. The agency did not make caricature
out of it, but this is certainly foundation for building
the house that you want. You know, terms of reference
are terms of reference. I say to you: “smear this one”,
and you see what you’ll do. And I refer you to certain
people that will give you something. And we’ve got the job done. Citizens had a chance to see how
this mechanism functions on the example of media persecution of
Ombudsman – the institution that should protect citizens from
the abuse of state institutions. When I think of media persecution,
I first recall Ombudsman’s case. I believe that the case of
Sasa Jankovic is the worst. Although due to crticisms of judicial
reforms he was targeted by the media and former ruling
coalition, persecution that he faced with this time was much
worse and longer lasting. This lasted for days, months, even
more than a year, I suppose, they insisted on one story that is
altogether different from the story that relevant bodies had determined
several decades ago. Back in 1993, Jankovic’s best friend
commited suicide firing from Jankovic’s gun in the apartment in
New Belgrade which they shared. Jankovic was not in the apartment
when the incident happened, so the case was soon
concluded as suicide. This is the greatest tragedy
that happened to me. This is something that
haunts me my whole life. The killing that happened in his
youth was taken out of context, evidence was selectively published,
even the family of unfortunate man that got killed, it was suicide
though, was abused. More than 20 years later, Jankovic
became target, after his warning that Military Security Agency (VBA)
is dealing with the work of some political parties, violating the law,
which he wrote in his regular annual Ombudsman’s report to the National
Parliament. The attack of ruling MPs and extracting this suicide case
from his youth to public – hadn’t surprised him. I have to tell you that I was aware
in advance that something like this might happen, as I also received
all the data from this case from the unknown people from the
Ministry of Internal Affairs that I hadn’t kept. Media close to the government,
above all Informer and Pink, suggested in their reporting that
Jankovic is a potential killer. Minister of Interior Nebojsa
Stefanovic helped them in these efforts by constantly underlining the
fact that young man killed himself with Sasa Jankovic’s gun, for
which allegedly he hadn’t got permission, and he publicly
declared that he will submit the whole case
to the prosecutor’s office. There was no reaction, not even
of the Minister of Information who was obliged to do so,
or the prosecutors, who should have said – wait a
minute, if this is criminal offense, the police takes part in informing
the public via Informer, so someone had to launch
investigation and it must have had some results. Underlying this case and discrediting
Ombudsman were linked with his launching procedure against
the body of military security from which Jankovic required data
on the incident on Pride Parade and beating of Andrej Vucic,
Prime Minister’s brother. In another procedure led by another
state body, outside my jurisdiction, it was established that the same
state prosecutor that heads the case of the brothers of Prime
Minister and Mayor respectively, against the gendarmes, that same
state prosecutor had contacted via phone call the archives of the
Ministry of Internal Affairs, ordering that this 20 year
old case be transferred to minister’s cabinet, without leaving any
trace in writing about it. Minister of Police first claimed that
he does not know where this file is. It was only when I stated that if the
minister cannot find the file that he got hold of I can help him, did they
start to reveal those documents, bit by bit. Still, the assaults on
the Ombudsman were revived in any situation when
he pointed out an inadequate procedure of state bodies, primarily
in cases of investigations of the killing of pilots
in case “Helicopter”, and unlawful attitude of the masked people while
tearing down objects in Savamala. Documents that he possessed show
that for the case he was blamed for, Jankovic spoke the truth. How many ordinary citizens would
be able to protect themselves from this kind of affair or campaign?
Fairly small number of them. This is dangerous message which
is addressed to the judges, and prosecutors, and businessmen,
meaning that if we are able to do this to Sasa Jankovic,
then we can do it to you, too. So, think twice prior
to confronting us. Boundary between investigative
reporting and launching persecuton stands in the evidence. If you possess certain evidence
that could easily be planted, then it is media persecution that
only hides behind investigative journalism. You have lots of things
that are simply unacceptable, which is actually
unaccapteble to the common sense, but still, one says: but, if this is
published in a newspaper. This “there is more to it”
seems to be the problem. On this occasion and on many other
occasions, many who criticized those in power felt this. Judging by the
manner of counterattacks, the circle closed by returning to the
manners from the nineties. Back then, you had the list of
mercenaries, the list of those who betrayed their country,
according to the claims of certain tabloids, but behind
this was only a campaign that is being brutally launched against
those who protect human rights, while the real situation
is being blurred. No one is safe, absolutely no one.
In such society, no one is safe and anyone can be
the victim of a beating. In such a way, Aleksandar Vucic
perceives himself and his family as victims. In numerous situations, just like in
the latest campaign, this time running
for the President of Serbia, he points out that nobody
was so demonized on the political scene
as he and his family was. “The fact that they were unable to
respond even today as to what my brother had done,
along with my son, my father, who is not really my father, my
brother – “leader of criminal gang”, should I bring him here
to shed tears and to tell you that he is expecting
a baby in three month time? Should I do that? “ Despite this, or due to this, with
the votes of the majority of citizens of Serbia, Vucic had won the
elections in the first round. In the meantime, new amendments
to the Law on Information were announced, but the time
behind us leaves little hope that the state in the media
field will get any better. We could have greater hope if
we could all be equally aware of the importance of respecting
media freedom, but also respecting presumption of innocence and
Press Code in journalism, without becoming identical.

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