News agency editor assaulted in Belgrade

BELGRADE -- The FoNet news agency has announced that its editor Davor Pašalić was assaulted and brutally beaten by hooligans.

The agency said that Pašalić was attacked by three men in the night between Wednesday and Thursday near his apartment in New Belgrade.

The agency expects that an investigation will "urgently establish the motives of this mindless violence, as the attackers, besides trying to extort money, insulted Pašalić in the crudest manner also on national basis."

FoNet invites any witnesses to contact the police and provide the necessary information, and said it sought effective response of the rule of law, "so that there is finally and end to the endangering of the right to life, and to violence and all forms of intolerance in the streets of Belgrade and throughout Serbia."

The lack of an urgent response of the police and justice system would contribute to an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, not only in the media, but also in society as a whole, and further encourage potential attackers, said the agency.

It also warned about "the continuity of threats and attacks on journalists in Serbia, who have been, for years and for various reasons, subjected to brutal violence."

Interior Minister Nebojša Stefanović announced on Thursday that he ordered the police to investigate the case and and establish the circumstances of the attack, said a statement from the Interior Ministry.

"I condemn the attack on Mr. Pašalić in the strongest terms. The police will take all measures to ensure that perpetrators are promptly identified and punished according to the law," he said.

The Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS) and the Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) also reacted and asked the police to identify and turn over the attacker to the competent prosecutor's office, urging most sever punishment for the crime.

A statement said that the three approached Pašalić near the building where he lives, asking him to give them money, and then proceeded to beat him, hitting him 30 times.

Pašalić suffered cuts and bruises to his head, had two of his teeth broken, and has bruises all over his body. The UNS added that it was particularly concerned about the safety of Pašalić, who was beaten "by three young men after he refused to give them money who during the assault shouted that he was an Ustasha and a Croat."