Reporters Without Borders "hail Serbia verdict"

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Friday that they hailed "the 'historic' sentences of 20 to 30 years in prison that four men received today in Belgrade."

Source: B92, RFS
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In a press release, the organization said they were sentenced for Serbian newspaper editor Slavko Curuvija’s murder in 1999, and urged the authorities "to pursue the investigation in order to identify and punish the person who ordered the murder."

"It took 20 years, including four years of judicial proceedings, for the perpetrators of Curuvija’s murder – former four state security officers – to be tried and convicted by a special court for organized crime. This is the first time in recent Serbian history that anyone has been convicted of murdering a journalist," the RSF said.

"We welcome this highly symbolic conviction, one that testifies to a strong commitment by the Serbian authorities to respect the rule of law and the fight against impunity. The justice system must nonetheless continue its efforts in order to convict all those involved in Slavko Curuvija’s murder, including the person who gave the orders," said Pauline Ades-Mevel, the head of RSF’s European Union and Balkans desk.

"A leading critic of then President Slobodan Milosevic’s regime, Curujiva was shot 14 times in the back outside his home by two masked man on April 11, 1999. This courageous and professional journalist’s murder became a symbol of the regime’s authoritarian excesses, but 15 years went by before the suspected killers were arrested and charged," RSF noted in its press release, adding:

"While hailing the conviction of Curuvija's killers, RSF points out that two other murders of Serbian journalists – Dada Vujasinovic on 8 April 1994 and Milan Pantić on 11 June 2001 – have yet to be solved, and calls for the investigations to be relaunched. According to the Association of Serbian Journalists (UNS), over 30 journalists working for Serbian media were killed or went missing during the wars in former Yugoslavia."

The organization also remarked that Serbia is ranked 76th out of 180 countries in its 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

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