Mayor from ruling party detained for attack on journalist

Veran Matic believes that there is sufficient evidence to indict the president of the municipality of Grocka.

Source: Tanjug, Prva TV
(Screenshot, Prva TV)
(Screenshot, Prva TV)

Matic, who is the chairman of the Commission Investigating Murder of Journalists, spoke for Prva TV in Belgrade on Monday morning.

Grocka Mayor Dragoljub Simonovic, who is also a senior official of the ruling SNS party, is suspected of ordering a fire to be started on the property of Milan Jovanovic, a journalists with the local Zig Info website. The arson attack happened on December 12, 2018.

"If he has been arrested, there is evidence and there are a whole lot of indications that Simonovic did it," Matic said.

Noting that Simonovic was a "target" of the website's investigative articles, Matic added that he "probably deserves to be prosecuted for the deeds that journalist Jovanovic wrote about."

Matic also assessed that the atmosphere created in society has contributed to the arrest of Dragoljub Simonovic, and that the meeting between the President of Serbia and the SNS leader, Aleksandar Vucic, with representatives of Reporter Without Borders was also significant.

"Vucic made promises and offered cooperation, and these are good signals that we all need to make use of," said Matic.

He added to journalistic solidarity has also been expressed, as journalists pressured the public and institutions, but also took over certain stories of Jovanovic to continue to investigate them.

Matic emphasized that much should be done on prevention, so as not to have similar cases in future, and that there should be effective reaction whenever there are indications that violence will occur.

Simonovic, who is suspected of committing the crime of "causing general danger in incitement", was ordered to detained for up to 30 days on Sunday in order not to influence witnesses, destroy evidence and repeat the crime.

He was arrested on January 25, while more than a month earlier, suspected perpetrator Aleksandar Marinkovic, organizer of the arson Igor Novakovic and helper Bojana Cvetkovic-Sijaki had also been detained.

Jovanovic claimed from the beginning that he was attacked solely because he wrote about the affairs of the president of the Municipality, who is also a member of the SNS Main Board.


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