Journalist accused of filing false report speaks

Stefan Cvetkovic, a journalist based in Bela Crkva, a town in northern Serbia, said on Tuesday that he was abducted by three persons last Wednesday.

Source: Beta, Tanjug
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(YouTube/BC Novosti, file)
(YouTube/BC Novosti, file)

One of these persons was armed and wore a badge "reminiscent of a police badge," he told a news conference.

Earlier in the day, reports said that "based on investigative proceedings conducted to date, the competent prosecutor's offices in Vrsac and Pancevo had established facts pointing to, and representing, a suspected criminal act of filing a false report, committed by journalist Stefan Cvetkovic."

The competent prosecutors' office "will take action required by law against Cvetkovic to establish a possible existence of the criminal act and criminal responsibility of a perpetrator, after which a decision on further criminal proceedings will be made," Public Prosecutor Tihomir Knezevic said in a statement.

But Cvetkovic, presenting his account of the events last week, said he had in fact been abducted, and added that the persons responsible "did not beat or mistreat him, nor did they communicate with him."

Cvetkovic also said that of the three persons who stopped him, two wore masks, and "likely used a van to transport him to a location that was likely in Bela Crkva."

He added that during this time, he had been blindfolded and could not see where he was nor in whose company, but that in a short communication with one of these persons he "sensed that they spoke with a Slovenian accent."

According to Cvetkovic, after a while, the persons whom he said were his kidnappers, asked him where he wanted to be dropped off - after which he said they "transported him to that place and told him not to remove his hood for at least five minutes if he wants to live."

"Nobody from the police found me. I then called a police employee whose number I have," he told the news conference, and added that this police employee "immediately came to pick him up, and transported him to Belgrade in a car, along with the Pancevo police chief and Dijana Hrkalovic, a representative of the Interior Ministry," Cvetkovic said.

Before the start of the news conference today, Cvetkovic said that he learned from the media that the prosecution had submitted a (criminal) complaint against him for filing a false report, and added that nobody had informed him about it. For this reason, he showed journalists a phone number, saying that he was dialing the prosecutor in charge. Voice mail picked up on the other end, and Cvetkovic showed the cameras which number he had dialed.

Cvetkovic also said that as of Monday evening, he had police security assigned to him, "because there are indications that his safety is jeopardized" - but, he said, "he had not been consulted about it."

Lastly, Cvetkovic thanked "the public and professional associations, as well as his colleagues who had been sincerely concerned for all the goings-on."

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