OBC / Croatia. The steps forward praised by the OSCE
Why the person responsible for the threats to the journalist Ema Branica was sentenced and why the person suspected of threats against the president of the journalists association was sent for trial
This article is part of an in-depth series which OBC Transeuropa – in the context of the ECPMF project of which Ossigeno for Information is one of the partners – dedicates to the reality in which a quality journalism is capable of enhancing democracy and rights in European society.
Nicole Corritore – from the Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Observatory website– 10 February 2017 – With a letter sent on January 25th to the Croatian Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier, the OSCE Representative for media freedom, Dunja Mijatović expressed satisfaction for the positive steps taken by the authorities in the investigations into two cases of threats to journalists in Croatia. At the same time she hoped that the latest case of a state TV journalist, Jagoda Bastalić who two weeks ago denounced to the authorities having been seriously threatened following a feature devoted to the Croatian president, Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, would be immediately investigated.
The first case quoted by Mijatović concerns Ema Branica, a journalist of Nova TV. On the 28th September 2016, whilst interviewing for the programme “Provjereno”, Tito Gubić – who faces 120 criminal accusations for theft, fraud, counterfeiting and circumvention of disabled people – , the journalist was seriously threatened by him; “You will end up like (Ivo) Pukanić”. Ivo Pukanić, chief editor and owner of the weekly, Nacional, was killed on the 23rd October 2008 in the centre of Zagreb by a bomb placed in a motorcycle parked adjacent to his car. Besides him, the marketing director of Nacional, Niko Franjić and two technicians from the publication Ivica Horvat and Vedran Duhaček were also killed.
Ema Branica immediately made a formal complaint to the competent authorities. As reported by the daily Dnevnik on the 9th January, after only one month of trial arguments, Grubić was sentenced to 10 months in prison. Threats towards journalists have been considered not only to individuals but also as threats to press freedom.
The second case over which the OSCE Representative was congratulatory was the launch of a prosecution against Ivan Goluban for “hate crimes”. Now the latter risks from six months to five years of imprisonment. Ivan Goluban is in prison since November 2016 because of the risk of contaminating the evidence. The accusation refers to threatening messages sent to Saša Leković, president of the HND (Association of Croatian Journalists), already subject to numerous attacks, including an attempted murder on October 28th of last year.
As regards the case already mentioned concerning Jagoda Bastalić of Croatian Television (HRT), it was precisely Leković, on behalf of HND, to denounce the threats to the journalist, requesting an immediate clear response from the authorities. The journalist had been attacked after her transmission, “Labirint”, broadcast on the 16th January dedicated to a suspected case of conflict of interest regarding the President of the Republic Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.
As Hratska Danas reported on the 21st January, Jagoda Bastalić was threatened and insulted on websites such as Hu-benedikt.hr, Maxportal.hr, Dnevno.hr, Krugovaldomovina.info and Kamenjar.com already known for their use of hate language, besides being subject to a defamatory letter from a sub-lieutenant of the Croatian army, Dubravko Jošić.
The journalist declared to Fairpress that, although shocked, she would not be intimidated. “I have taken all the necessary measures, I have denounced to the police all that happened and I will defend myself in every way possible. I have been enormously damaged. It is a case of harsh pressure on me as well as on all my colleagues in the “Labirint” press room and we are shocked. It is difficult to defend oneself from these types of things. They are individuals not interested in the truth and whose sole objective is to discredit. But I’m not giving up; what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. Nobody can stop the truth”.
The organisation for whom she works, the state television HRT has publicly expressed its support to Jagoda Bastalic also on behalf of all the journalists, media workers and collaborators who in these last months have been subject to attacks. (translated by Maria Laura Franciosi)
Read this article in Italian with links to the news quoted, on the website of Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso.