Journalist denies she denounced Curuvija to Milosevic

The Commission Investigating Murders of Journalists is shocked by Branka Prpa's insidious (verbal) attack on a member of this commission, Ljiljana Smajlovic.

Source: B92

The attack was in this way extended to publisher and journalist Slavko Curuvija, 20 years after his murder, and several days after a verdict was passed, sentencing those who carried the crime out to a total of a hundred years in prison, the commission said.

Prpa was Curuvija's civil partner who was with him at the time of the murder, in April 1999, and who was injured when the killer struck her on the head with a pistol.

The commission recalled in a statement published on Monday that Prpa has been belittling its work ever since this body was founded (by the Serbian government), and has been dismissing any possibility that the commission would contribute to the killers being brought to justice.

"The commission is wondering why Ms. Prpa is so outrageous with the ruling against (former) state security officials and what could have made her, with a delay of 20 years, start personally accusing Ljiljana Smajlovic," the statement said.

At the time of the murder, Smajlovic was the editor-in-chief of the Evropljanin magazine, published by Curuvija.

The Commission recalled that both its president, Veran Matic, and Ljiljana Smajlovic have for many months been exposed to attacks by people who opened the media crackdown on Slavko Curuvija in the Politika Ekspres in 1999 - because they are fighting to end impunity for crimes committed against journalists. Prpa's action has been no less brutal and unscrupulous than that taken by Goran Kozic and Djordje Martic, the Commission said.

Ljiljana Smajlovic also reacted, to say that she was astonished by the brutality of Prpa's attack on her personal integrity.

"But I am equally horrified by the fact that she is falsifying Slavko Curuvija as we who worked with him in Evropljanin knew him," Smajlovic added.

"He was a patriot, he was not a traitor, as Politika Ekspres and Radio Television of Serbia showed him to be in the days before the murder. I do not understand why Prpa is now picking up where Djordje Martic left off, when he announced that 'Curuvija welcomed (NATO) bombs'. I do not even understand her anger over the verdict passed against those responsible for the murder of Curuvija. In my opinion, it's better to have justice that you await even for 20 years, than no justice. Perhaps Slavko would agree with me," she said.

The only thing that is true Prpa's statement made for Podgorica-based newspaper Pobjeda, Smajlovic continued, "is that I traveled to Washington with Slavko and Branka in December 1998."

"I translated Slavko's speech before the Helsinki Committee of the US Congress, and Slavko insisted that I travel with him so that I could read the speech in case he is not allowed to leave the country. In addition, Branka and Slavko did not speak English well and they needed an interpreter for their meetings with journalists and potential donors," Smajlovic said, adding:

"During our stay in Washington, there was no dinner with 'State Department officials'. We were invited to dinner by Soros's assistant John Fox. There were only four of us. Slavko did not propose that any kind of Hague indictment should be raised against Slobodan Milosevic. I think I would have heard him saying something like that, since I was translating most of the conversation for all of them. I add that mentioning war crimes would be pointless because this was in December 1998 and the bombing would only begin in late March 1999. In addition, the Americans had long since created the Hague tribunal to accuse Serbs, I do not think they needed Slavko Curuvija to come to this idea," Smajlovic said.

She added that she was unable to convey this to anyone, including Milosevic - "since Slavko did not suggest such a thing."

Brnka Prpa previously stated that Curuvija saying during the dinner that Milosevic should be accused by the Hague Tribunal was what sealed his faith. She also alluded to Smajlovic being the person who told Milosevic Curuvija had said this.


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