Media rights teams and opposition campaigners on Saturday condemned a Serbian appeals court docket ruling that acquitted 4 former intelligence officers who have been jailed for the killing of a outstanding journalist and newspaper writer who was fiercely vital of the federal government in Belgrade.
Slavko Curuvija was shot useless on the entrance to his Belgrade residence throughout the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia over its crackdown towards Kosovo Albanian separatists.
His killing turned a logo of the lengthy battle for a free press within the Balkan nation that’s formally looking for membership within the European Union.
The ruling by the Appeals Courtroom on Friday overturned its earlier verdict in 2021 that convicted the 4 males and sentenced them to prolonged jail phrases. The court docket in Belgrade stated that the accusations towards the 4 “haven’t been confirmed past a doubt.”
Unbiased media organisations have been shocked by the acquittal and warned that vital journalists in Serbia nonetheless face threats due to their work.
The federal government of populist President Aleksandar Vucic — who was info minister on the time of Curuvija’s loss of life — maintains tight management over mainstream media shops.
“I’m shocked by this scandalous ruling, it sends a daunting message to all journalists and all people who find themselves combating for freedom of the speech,” stated Jelena Curuvija, the sufferer’s daughter who runs a basis that promotes media freedom.
“This verdict is a proof that the darkish forces of the Nineteen Nineties nonetheless rule this nation,” she stated. “It is a land of darkness.”
A media freedom consultant for the Organisation for Safety and Cooperation in Europe, Teresa Ribeiro, expressed her dismay over the ruling.
“The truth that this case nonetheless stays unresolved, virtually 25 years after this brave journalist was murdered, may be very disturbing,” Ms. Ribeiro stated in an announcement. “Impunity for this heinous crime isn’t solely extraordinarily painful for Curuvija’s household and colleagues, but additionally deeply disappointing for the entire of Serbian society.”
Curuvija was thought to be an enemy of the state by the regime of former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. The state-run media managed by Milosevic’s regime accused him of ‘’inviting’’ NATO to bomb Serbia. The 1999 NATO intervention in Serbia was in response to Milosevic’s bloody crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008.
Serbian authorities officers have repeatedly denied any strain on non-government media.
The U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Christopher Hill additionally expressed concern over the court docket ruling.
“Disheartening to see that justice and accountability for the killers of Slavko Curuvija stay elusive, even 25 years after his homicide,” he wrote on X, previously Twitter. “A tragic day for journalism.”