Psychiatric treatment for threatening Matic, officials

The Higher Court in Belgrade has ordered Nemanja Ristic to undergo mandatory psychiatric treatment, and released him from custody.

Source: B92,

Ristic was on trial for threatening B92 news Editor-in-Chief Veran Matic, U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Michael Kirby, and Public Prosecutor Zagorka Dolovac.

Ristic sent his threats sent via email and through social networks, among other things telling Matic, Kirby and Dolovac that they will be executed by a firing squad. B92's legal team in April filed criminal charges against Ristic, after which he was arrested and placed in custody.

The court today ordered Ristic released from detention and from the hospital, along with a measure of mandatory treatment he will be receiving at the Psychiatric Hospital Laza Lazarevic, lasting up to three years.

Explaining the verdict, the court said that it took into account the findings of experts and of Ristic's doctor in the prison hospital, who said his health had improved and that he was responding well to treatment.

The court also stated that the ruling passed today could be reviewed at any point if Ristic abandoned his treatment or committed a new disturbing act, and that he would in that case be returned to a psychiatric facility for compulsory treatment.

The court also ordered the accused's cell phone, two SIM cards, a laptop, a pistol, and an e-mail address "to be confiscated."

Ristic addressed the court and said he was ready to undergo treatment, that he was taking his therapy and having checkups, and that his wife would help him during the treatment.

"Avoid provocations, it will contribute to your care," the judge told Ristic at the end of the sentencing.

The Prosecution in its closing argument sought to have Ristic committed to a hospital facility because of the danger he caused, as well as the threats that he had sent, which created a sense of fear and vulnerability in the victims, and led them to introduce heightened security .

Veran Matic spoke today to say it was "very difficult to comment on the expert assessment of a competent psychiatrist, whose opinion was adopted by the court which ruled in this manner."

"In any case, because there is a serious history of offenses, I would certainly support the Prosecution's appeal against this ruling," he told the Cenzolovka website.

"I think it is necessary to make courts' practice more strict, in order to stop or minimize the threats, because otherwise we will have a situation in which some threats will actually be realized without any prevention in place beforehand, although there had been serious warning signs," said Matic.

More threats against Matic continued to arrive yesterday and today in the form of comments left on B92's Serbian language website. Matic told Cenzolovka that the legal team of B92 reported these as well to the competent prosecutor's office, stating that "the comments themselves provide a lot of answers as to why we have this new avalanche of threats." The comments in question threatened Matic he would be "dead like his colleague and spy (Slavko) Curuvija," and that "the West will not save him."

Another described Matic as "a traitor guarded by the police like Brankica (Stankovic), Olja (Beckovic) and other traitors," adding they were "spitting on Russia, Serbia, on everything that is sacred to Serbs," and that he should "look where to run if chaos breaks out in the country."

"It's the vocabulary of the 1990s," Matic commented, and added: "The fact that I deal with investigations into the murders of journalists and the violence against journalists is something that the bullies themselves connect together. In any case, these actions will not stop me from continuing to work on these projects, or from making public such unacceptable deeds."

CoE commissioner reacts

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks has reacted to the death threats against B92 journalists in Serbia, his office announced on Thursday.

He wrote on his twitter account: "Very concerned ab death threats vs @b92vesti.Serbian authorities must punish those responsible & ensure a safe
environment 4 all journalists."

A statement noted that in his July report on Serbia the commissioner "has already expressed concerns and made recommendations to improve media freedom and journalists' safety in the country."


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