Investigative reporter assaulted in Belgrade

Two assailants used metal bars to beat Ivan Ninic late on Thursday at the entrance to an apartment building in Karaburma, Belgrade.

Source: B92

This was announced on Friday in a statement published by the Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS).

The 27-year-old UNS member and investigative journalist said he was brutally beaten, and that the incident was reported to the police.

"While I was locking the car in the parking lot after returning from the town, I saw two young men, about 20 years old, sitting on the stairs of the building. They were dressed in tracksuits and baseball caps, but I saw their faces because I headed towards the entrance of the building and passed by them. I described them to the police," Ninic said, and added:

"As I walked around them, I heard something rustling in the bushes and then I saw they were getting two metal bars from there. They attacked me and struck me brutally. Now I have a haematoma under my eye, bruises on the thigh bone and an injury to the right shoulder."

"I gave the police all the pointers and summed up my journalistic activities in the last ten years that I have been investigating corruption on a daily basis," he said.

Ninic stressed that he and a group of friends in March founded the NGO "Center for the Rule of Law" which plans to launch a website to publish investigative stories.

"This site is registered and for four months there's been work on the preparation of the topics. We are currently working on two particularly interesting stories that could influence a lot the political elite in Serbia. It is the story about the cabinet of President Tomislav Nikolic, and the story about the transfer of state money to the fund the Socialist Party of Serbia. So far we have sent over 100 requests for access to information of public importance, and it can be assumed that someone felt threatened. The police have so far done their job, and I expect they will find and punish not only the attackers but also the masterminds, so that I know who's sending me this message," Ninic told UNS.

The association said Ninic is the author of approximately 300 articles and well-known investigative stories, who has been engaged in investigative journalism since high school, and has worked for the Pistaljka website, where he published about 90 articles from 2009 until 2013. He took part as a legal advisor in the writing of the Annual Report of the Anti-Corruption Council about ownership structure and control of media in Serbia. Currently, as he told UNS, he is participating in the writing the report of the Council on advertising and marketing of state organs. Ninic also worked as an advisor in the office of former Minister Sasa Radulovic, and in March became executive director of the NGO Center for the Rule of Law. He is a lecturer at the Journalistic School for UNS and a legal apprentice. In the period from 2008 to 2012, he was "politically engaged in the Serb Radical Party."

UNS said it was "shocked by the attack on Ninic and is demanding from the authorities to urgently find and punish the attackers." UNS pointed out that the attack represented "a threat to Serbian investigative journalism."

Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection Rodoljub Sabic reacted to the incident by posting on his Twitter that the attack was a case of "terror that requires immediate, the fastest possible response by relevant (authorities)".


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