Thursday, 24 March 2022

HRT Loses Case Against Reporter Who Accused It Of Censorship

ZAGREB, 24 March 2022 - Zadar County Court has rejected an appeal by the HRT public broadcaster against reporter Hrvoje Zovko and upheld a Zagreb Municipal Court ruling that the statement by Zovko, who is president of the Croatian Journalists' Association, about censorship at HRT was not contentious or false.

The court also ruled that Zovko's statement did not hurt the HRT's reputation, the HND reported on its website on Thursday.

"This is a great victory for me, my family and my attorney and proof that I have been telling the truth all along," said Zovko.

He said the final ruling in the case was also a "defeat of the policy pursued by the public media service at the time when Kazimir Bačić, a former inmate of the Remetinac jail, was at its helm" and when all the lawsuits against him were filed.

"This is a great victory for HND and the journalist profession. The ruling confirms the real situation at the HRT's News Desk, which is something we have been warning of for years," said Zovko.

The ruling notes that Zovko made statements that HRT considers contentious after the broadcaster fired him and that HRT was the first to go public about the dismissal. Zovko's statements were a reaction to HRT's public statement about the reasons for his dismissal, the court ruled.

The court also found that the motive for Zovko to make the statements was determined correctly and that the statements were a justified response to ill-intentioned attempts to publicly discredit him.

The court ruled that testimonies by witnesses for the defence were convincing and sincere.

The court further determined that the working atmosphere and environment at HRT had for a long time prior to Zovko's statements been such that it could prompt a large number of persons, including the indictee, to conclude that there was a certain degree of restriction on employees to freely express their opinions and ideas.

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Thursday, 17 February 2022

Split Deputy Mayor Vows Not To Be "Embarrassment" For City Authorities Anymore

ZAGREB, 17 Feb 2022 - Split Deputy Mayor Bojan Ivošević, who threatened an editor of the Slobodna Dalmacija daily, Nikolina Lulić, saying he would "drink her blood" and was lambasted by the public, on Thursday promised that he would not be an "embarrassment" for the city authorities anymore.

"I am aware that I am no longer an activist but deputy mayor and something like that will never be repeated again and I will not embarrass our town," Ivošević said.

He apologized to Mayor Ivica Puljak (Centar), city councillors in the ruling majority for being connected to some of his wrong decisions.

This was his first public statement since the contentious episode with the reporter. He had promised not to address the public for "a month" but that today he considered it was only fair and necessary to make this statement, as he had been out of the country for a few days.

Apologies to Ms. Lulić and anyone who felt offended

"I apologize to Ms. Nikolina Lulić and anyone else who may have felt insulted by my words and my way of communication. I have learned my lesson and will change some things in my life," he said.

He told reporters that they have the right to do their job and that he will try and make information more accessible to them.

"I am still in my old 'mode' as an activist when communication was more informal but my current position as deputy mayor does not allow that anymore," he added.

I would ask someone who acted like me to step down

Asked if he would insist on resignation in the event that someone else had acted the way he did, Ivošević said that he would first ask for an apology and would probably call for their resignation if he were a part of the Opposition.

"I have already apologized to Ms. Nikolina Lulić and apologized again. I can apologize as many times as required," he added.

He did not wish to comment on a statement by the mayor's close associate Srđan Marinić that Slobodna Dalmacija tried to racketeer city authorities.

"I have learned that as deputy mayor I should not comment on the work of the media in any sense. If I wish to comment I cannot say anything in the capacity of deputy mayor. What I can say is that on two occasions we rejected to enter into business cooperation that was valued at HRK 460,000. I've learned my lesson I cannot comment on the work of media houses," he said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 16 April 2021

The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND): "At Least 924 Law Actions Against Reporters and Media Outlets Currently Active"

ZAGREB, 16 April, 2021 - The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) on Friday presented the results of its latest survey showing that there are currently at least 924 lawsuits against the media and reporters in Croatia with plaintiffs seeking HRK 78.5 million in damages.

The real number of lawsuits may be even greater because the data collected refers to only 23 media outlets, HND president Hrvoje Zovko said at a news conference in Zagreb.

The HND says on its website that "same as last year, Hanza Media has the highest number of lawsuits, 479 of them, with the average indemnity demands of 13,333 euro per lawsuit. Styria follows them with 203 lawsuits – the amounts of indemnity requests made to them result to almost € 2.7 million. In active litigation, the amount of claims ranges from several thousand kunas to even more than one million kunas, while the longest active litigation is currently in its 12th year." 

The HND will continue to warn the local and international public about that problem, said Zovko and called on all reporters for solidarity in the fight against that kind of intimidation.

HND secretary-general Ema Tarabochia reported that in February last year there were 905 law actions against media outlets and journalists . Even though this year's number is insignificantly higher, it is particularly concerning that such a number of active cases exists in any case, she said.

"Out of the total number of 924 lawsuits, 892 refer to civil actions against publishers, their editors and journalists, for compensation of damages due to violations of honor and reputation based on published texts and articles, while the remaining number of 32 lawsuits refers to currently active criminal proceedings. Among prosecutors, apart from natural persons unknown to the general public, the most prominent are persons from public and political life, followed by legal entities, politicians in power, even judges themselves," says the HND on its website.

Three active disputes against HND

The HRT national broadcaster has a lawsuit against Zovko seeking compensation of HRK 250,000 and HRK 200,000 from HND. In that same legal action HRT is seeking HRK 50,000 in damages from HTV reporters Sanja Mikleušević Pavić.

As HND said, this is a unique case where a public media service is suing one of its own employees but also a reporters' professional association.

Government should conduct education to prevent lawsuits occurring

Laywer and member of the European Commission expert group for SLAPP suits, Vanja Jurić said today that the government should conduct education for politicians, lawyers and judges in preventing lawsuits against reporters and the media and to have them realise that they need to be prepared to accept criticism.

She in particular warned of the danger of the Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP).

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.


Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Two Indicted For Assault On Reporter In Split

ZAGREB, June 2, 2020 - The Split office of the Attorney General has issued an indictment against two-man, aged 53 and 21, for assaulting reporter Zivana Susak Zivkovic while she was trying to record a mass in a church in Split on her mobile phone on 12 April.

In the incident in the Sirobuje residential area, the journalist of the Dalmatinski portal web site sustained light injuries when she was pushed away, and her mobile phone, on which she was streaming the gathering, was taken and her arm was pinned with the church door.

The mass was being held despite the ban on public gathering, and the two attackers are charged with preventing the reporter from doing her job which is described as a job of public interest.

In the incident the reporter's mobile telephone, the value of which is estimated at 3,000 kunas, was destroyed. If found guilty, the 21-man, who smashed that phone, will be required to compensate that damage.