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Macedonia26 September 2002

Beaten-up journalist near death in hospital

Reporters Without Borders today deplored a night-time attack on the chief editor of a radio station that left him in critical condition in hospital and called for action to find and punish those responsible.

Three armed men broke into the offices of the radio station Tumba, in the Macedonian town of Kumanovo, in the early hours of 24 September and beat its chief editor, Zoran Bozinovski, with iron bars. He was taken to hospital in Skopje with serious head and hand injuries.

"Journalism has become a very dangerous profession to exercise in your country," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to outgoing Macedonian prime minister Ljubco Georgievski. "We ask you to thoroughly investigate this serious episode and see that such thuggish practices do not tarnish the reputation of Macedonia."

Bozinovski’s attackers also threatened the guest on the station’s late night programme, Redzo Balic, with their weapons. He and Bozinovski identified them as members of the "Lions," a special police unit set up during last year’s fighting between Macedonian troops and Albanian UCK rebels and whose dissolution the international community has been calling for.

Bozinovski had been investigating corruption involving the head of the Macedonian customs service, Dragan Daravelski, who is also a senior official in the VMRO-DPMNE, the main party in the outgoing coalition government defeated in last week’s general election.

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