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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Journalists report attacks amid Kosovo elections

TV crew says cameraman beaten, correspondent’s car torched in separate incident 

Serbs walk in the Kosovo town of Gracanica on Jan. 30, 2008. REUTERS/Hazir Reka

VIENNA, Dec 11, 2013 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), today condemned pressure directed against journalists in Kosovo amid last week’s elections.

A crew from Silovo-based Radio Television Puls said a security guard at a municipal building in a village near Gjilan/Gnjilane, in eastern Kosovo, attacked them on Dec. 1 when they arrived to cover a story about an incident that occurred during the elections.

According to the Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) and the Association of Journalists of Kosovo-Metohija (DNKiM), the security guard, who the groups identified as Vladan Aksic, allegedly hit TV Puls cameraman Nenad Stankovic in front of the building. The groups said other individuals then joined Aksic, punching and kicking Stankovic before taking his camera and the footage he recorded.

When Stankovic and others in the TV Puls crew reported the incident to police, UNS and DNKiM said, they were kept at the police station for a lengthy amount of time for no apparent reason. Meanwhile, the groups claimed, none of the alleged attackers were questioned or arrested.

SEEMO also expressed alarm about another incident on Dec. 1 in which Fatmir Seholi, a Pristina-based correspondent for Serbian news agency Tanjug, said that unknown individuals torched his car in front of a local restaurant in Gracanica. The car was burned at about 5:45 p.m. while Seholi was on duty reporting from the second round of local elections in Kosovo.

SEEMO called on Kosovo authorities, as well as the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) to investigate both incidents.

“It is important that journalists in Kosovo can work free without any pressure”, SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said. “We also call the authorities in Kosovo to investigate all unsolved cases from the past and to punish those responsible for threats and attacks against journalists.

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