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Serbia30 July 2008

BETA news agency reporter beaten by police during pro-Karadzic protest

Reporters Without Borders condemns the beating which reporter Milos Djorelijevski of the BETA news agency received from police last night in Belgrade while covering the continuing protests against the arrest of former Bosnian Serb politician Radovan Karadzic.

After turning on a group of journalists while charging demonstrators, police officers hit Djorelijevski in the face and body although he and his colleagues had quickly produced their press cards.

When he went to the emergency department of a Belgrade hospital, Djorelijevski was denied access by the dozen policemen controlling the entrance, despite the fact that he identified himself as a journalist several times. One of the policemen even kicked him and tried to club him with his baton.

“These attacks against Djorelijevski by the Serb police are utterly unacceptable,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The national and international press cannot be treated in this manner. And it is outrageous that the police refused to allow injured people into a hospital, apparently on the grounds that they were journalists.”

The press freedom organisation added : “We reiterate the request we made to the Serb interior minister on 25 July to remind the police that journalists are not participants in the demonstrations they cover, and that their duty to report the news must always be guaranteed.”

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