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12.07.2017

Serbia: questions over break-in at reporter’s home

By Jane Whyatt

Media freedom campaigners are concerned about a burglary at a Belgrade apartment. It was ransacked but apparently nothing was stolen. The apartment is home to investigative reporter Dragana Peco.

 

Dragana Peco Serbian investigative reporter Dragana Peco

She is employed at the KRIK (Network for Investigating Crime and Corruption). In a press release issued by the Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation, KRIK editor Stevan Dojinovic said:

Cases involving journalists must be treated with the maximum seriousness, precisely because they can be related to their work. We work on stories related to crime and corruption; it is a fact that Peco is an investigative journalist and she works on serious matters. That’s why this case should be investigated with maximum seriousness, whatever it is all about.” 

Dragana Peco was not in the flat at the time of the break-in, and it was discovered by her partner. She is said to be badly shaken up and scared, and urges the authorities to find the perpetrators as soon as possible. An award-winning journalist, she offers training courses in business, research, data journalism and data visualisation. Peco received the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence 2014 and two national awards for investigative journalism, in 2011, 2014 and 2016.

Alarm and apprehension

Commenting on the case, Ljiljana Smajlovic, ECPMF Executive Board Member said: “There’s a great deal of alarm and apprehension among Serbia’s journalists because of what happened to Dragana Peco from KRIK. The police and the prosecutor’s office have promised to give top priority to the break-in at her apartment but tensions are high because this appears to be a highly unusual felony: Dragana’s apartment was ransacked but nothing was stolen. Because of the nature of Dragana’s investigative work, many of us suspect this could be a brazen attempt to intimidate reporters trying to scrutinise powerful institutions and individuals.“ 

Ms Smajlovic, one of Serbia’s leading political journalists, is a founder of the Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation which commemorates the owner and editor-in-chief of daily newspaper "Dnevni Telegraf" and weekly news magazine "Evropljanin", who was murdered in Belgrade in 1999 at the time of the NATO bombing campaign. The murder trial opened in October 2015 and is still continuing.



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