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Serbia-Montenegro7 March 2003

Two journalists receive death threats

Reporters Without Borders voiced its concern today about death threats against two journalists with the independent weekly Novine Vranjske in the city of Vranje in southeastern Serbia, and urged the authorities to ensure their safety.

"These threats must be taken seriously," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a letter to Serbian interior minister Dusan Mihajlovic. "We call on you to do everything possible to ensure that they are protected and that a thorough investigation is carried out to identify those responsible," he added.

The threats were made in a letter received by the newspaper on 3 March that was signed by two hitherto unknown groups, the "Serb Liberation Movement" and the "Serb Liberation Front." It threatened to eliminate editor Vukasin Obradovic, reporter Goran Antic and their families, and to destroy the newspaper’s offices, and it took issue with a series of reports in the newspaper in early January accusing Bishop Pahomije, the Orthodox bishop of Vranje, of sexually abusing minors.

The letter also accused the journalists of being traitors and mercenaries in the pay of the Albanians. After the reports appeared, the bishop had also verbally accused the journalists of working with the Albanian rebels and alleged that the newspaper was printed thanks to the rebels’ financial support.

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