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Croatia12 December 2005

Journalist gets death threat for investigating war crimes

Reporters Without Borders expressed alarm today at a death threat to journalist Drago Hedl, of the satirical weekly Feral Tribune, and declared its “solidarity and support” for him and other Croatian journalists investigating war crimes.

It called for an enquiry into the threats and for serious steps to protect the journalist from the “strong pressures” on him. Drago Hedl had criticised the role of Croatian generals in atrocities against Serbian civilians between 1991 and 1992.

The journalist filed a complaint about the threats with police, who put his apartment and car under protection and offered him a bodyguard.

Drago Hedl received an anonymous letter at his home on 5 December made up of newspaper clippings and warning he would be killed like Milan Levar, a Serbian officer in the Croatian army killed in a bomb explosion in 2000 after giving evidence to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) about the army’s war crimes.

Drago Hedl reported the evidence of Croatian former soldier Krunoslav Fehir accusing ex-General Branimir Glavas, now a town councillor in Osijek, where Drago Hedl lives. A head of town’s municipal council, Anto Djapic, said journalists were not “sacred cows” and that it was “their problem if they tell lies.”

Reporters Without Borders said that with recently-arrested Croatian General Ante Gotovina appearing today before the ICTY, it feared “more reprisals against the country’s journalists as they continue to reveal the alleged part played by former generals in war crimes against Serbs in Croatia,”

Fines totalling 200,000 kunas (28,000 euros) imposed by a Zagreb court in 2001 threatened to close down Feral Tribune after the paper criticised a lawyer close to then-President Franjo Tudjman for saying Jews had provoked the Holocaust.

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