Grenade explodes near journalist's home

A hand grenade exploded early Saturday outside a prominent Serb journalist apartment in Belgrade, police said.

Source: B92, Beta, Reuters

The blast shattered the windows but caused no injuries. "My wife and I were sleeping in the room when the explosion occurred in front of the window at 2:45 in the morning," Dejan Anastasijević, who writes for Vreme weekly and contributes to Time magazine, told Reuters.

He said his daughter who also lives with them had not been at home at the time.

"I have no idea what it's about. I have not written anything lately which would provoke such an attack," Anastasijević said.

At a press conference held in the weekly Vreme's premises Dejan Anastasijević characterized the attack as “an act of terrorism aimed against society and state.”

“I assume that the assailant was somebody annoyed by my writings, somebody who saw my comments on the B92 radio program Kažiprst as the last straw and decided to react,” he said.

“This is an attack on the journalist profession and on all those who think similarly,” Anastasijević argued, adding it was comforting that the police assigned top priority to the case.

He also said he was offered police protection though he has not yet decided if he will accept it.

Anastasijević covered organized crime and war crimes in his reporting. The editor-in-chief of Vreme weekly Dragoljub Žarković speculated that the attack could be linked to Anastasijević's criticism of a ruling against Serb paramilitaries called the Scorpions this week, Beta reported.

Anastasijević criticised Serbia's War Crimes Court for its verdict in the case of five Serb commandoes exposed in a taped execution of six Muslims in Bosnia in 1995. The court sentenced four of the defendants to up to 20 years in jail, but cleared the fifth, and Anastasijević said the verdicts were too lenient.

Žarković added that someone made a phone call to the weekly Vreme's editorial board following the B92 radio program in which Anastasijević talked of the trial and the recent verdict, enquiring about Anastasijević and his family.

“This bomb attack has been an attempted murder,” Žarković said, adding that placing a bomb under Anastasijević’s apartment window where he lived with his wife and daughter “was more than a mere act of intimidation.”

Anastasijević was a witness in the trial of the late Slobodan Milošević who died last year in the Hague before his trial for atrocities during the 1990s wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo could be completed.

Tadić seeks justice

President Boris Tadić said the bombing attack on Dejan Anastasijević’s put the state on red alert, as the attempted murder of a journalist is comparable to an attack on the state itself.

During his visit to the weekly Vreme office, Tadić pledged to demand a full investigation by the Government and the Interior Ministry.

He said that anyone who dared attack a journalist should face a severe sentence.

“The state must react with full capacity to such deeds. I will reiterate the fact that offences of this kind represent an attempt to throw Serbia back into the wartime 1990s,” Tadić asserted.

He said that just as Dejan Anastasijević was targeted today, his colleague Slavko Ćuruvija was singled out and murdered several years ago.

“In the meantime, Serbia witnessed the loss of its prime minister Zoran Đinđić,” he said.

“However, we cannot give up on building a democratic society in Serbia. We have to defend peoples’ right to freedom of speech and life, and punish everyone who dares to kill a journalist or any citizen for that matter,” Tadić said.

Government condemns attack

Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica has said today that the government condemns the attack on the Vreme weekly reporter Dejan Anastasijević.

Kostunica told Beta that he spoke this morning with Minister of the Interior Dragan Jočić on undertaking all available measures to find and penalize the perpetrators, the government reported on its web site.

The Prime Minister stressed that media in Serbia are guaranteed complete freedom of speech and expression, but noted it was also important to provide full safety to journalists.

“The government will utilize all its resources to provide full safety for all Serbian journalists,” Koštunica said.

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