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Croatia14 October 2005

Journalist is freed, flies to The Hague and pleads not guilty

Journalist Josip Jovic was released on 13 October after a week in prison in Split and flew voluntarily to The Hague today where he pleaded not guilty of contempt of court before the International Criminal Court for ex-Yugoslavia. He was given permission to return to Croatia pending trial.


Journalist arrested at home on the order of the international criminal court for ex-Yugoslavia

7 October 2005

Reporters Without Borders called for the release on bail of journalist Josip Jovic, arrested at his Split home on the order of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on a charge of contempt of court.

The 6 October 2005 arrest of Jovic, editor of the daily Slobodna Dalmacija was televised and shown the same evening on Croatian TV since he was in process of giving an interview at his home. Jovic’s arrest followed the issue of a warrant by the ICTY signed by a judge at a court in Split. He was placed in custody in a local prison while awaiting extradition to The Hague, which could take several weeks since he plans to appeal to the Croatian constitutional court and the Supreme Court.

“We condemn this sudden arrest of Jovic by the Croatian justice system based on a ICTY arrest warrant, which appears disproportionate to the crime he is accused of and sets a dangerous precedent,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.Considering the mandate of the tribunal in The Hague, which is supposed to try the most serious of international crimes, it is surprising that one of its decisions led to the arrest of a journalist who, even if he did not respect the law, has not committed a crime of violence.”

“The same goes for the four other Croatian journalists also accused of contempt of court. Considering that this journalist represents no danger for Croatia and the ICTY, he should be released on bail.”

Jovic failed to appear before the judges in The Hague on 26 September, unlike his colleague Marijan Krizic, editor of the weekly Hrvatsko Slovo, who answered his summons and was allowed to leave the court again freely.

The two journalists are accused of contempt of court, along with Ivica Marijacic, editor of Hrvatski List, Stjepan Seselj, editor of Hrvatsko Slovo, and Domagoj Margetic, editor of Novo Hrvatsko Slovo, for revealing the identity of a protected witnesses, the current Croatian President, Stipe Mesic, at the trial of Tihomir Blaskic in 1997. They face up to seven years in prison and a fine of 100,000 euros.

The trial of Ivica Marijacic, Stjepan Seselj, and Domagoj Margetic, who revealed the identity of Mesic in their newspapers in November 2004, is to open at the end of October.

This confidential information had already been posted on the Documentation and Information Centre Veritas (www.veritas.org.yu) in 1999, and carried by the Bosnian daily Bih Dani, on 1st June 2001.

“I will act in solidarity with my colleague and I prefer to go to prison rather than plead guilty before the ICTY”, Domagoj Margetic told Reporters Without Borders.

The ICTY chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, said on 4 October that she was in favour of membership talks between Croatia and the EU, since Zagreb was fully cooperating with the ICTY. She had given an unfavourable opinion in March, complaining that the Croatian authorities were dragging their feet in arresting fugitive general, Ante Govina, charged by judges in The Hague in 2001.




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