Unnamed journalists investigated for inciting war crimes

Preliminary investigation has been launched against unnamed perpetrators, journalists and editors of some media outlets for inciting war crimes.

Source: Tanjug

This was announced on Thursday in Belgrade by the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor's Office.

In a notice, signed by War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir Vukčević and delivered to the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS), the Office says that opening the issue of illegal propaganda is not contrary to the right to free speech.

The notice, published on the NUNS website, further states that the Prosecutor's Office, based on the information from the material gathered so far and in connection with the charges filed by the NUNS Executive Board in July 2009, has determined that there is reasonable cause to start a preliminary investigation.

Considering past experiences before international and local courts, we are fully aware of the negative connotations this case can have - that it can be very sensitive and interpreted as a witch-hunt or an attempt curb the freedom of speech and the media, says the notice.

The goal of the Prosecutor's Office is certainly not to jeopardize the freedoms and rights of journalists guaranteed by Serbian and international laws, but to investigate whether abuse of these rights threatened, in these specific cases, the right to life of the civilian population, and whether it contained elements of a war crime.

The Prosecutor's Office sees journalists and the media as partners in achieving justice, with a view to uncovering and prosecuting crimes and inhumane actions during the wars in the former Yugoslavia, without which there can be no reconciliation and further democratization in the region, according to the notice.

The media controlled by Slobodan Milošević dealt in propaganda that often jeopardized the right to life and aimed to dehumanize the opponent, stripping its victim of the status of a human being, said the Prosecutor's Office.

In the 1990s, media propaganda served as an overture to the war in the former Yugoslavia, which is why the Prosecutor's Office believes that this investigation does not contradict the human right to freedom of thought and belief.

Crime

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