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Macedonian Court Lengthens Detention For Journalist

June 29, 2013

A Macedonian court has ordered the detained journalist Tomislav Kezarovski to spend another 30 days in detention in spite of an outcry by journalists’ associations.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Balkan Insight, 27.06.2013

 

Video footage of Kezarovski’s arrest

The Skopje criminal court on Wednesday ruled that the detained journalist should remain behind bars for another 30 days with the same explanation as before, which is that he may “escape or influence other witnesses” in a wider investigation.

“We are astounded by the ruling. This is a case with no precedent that met an overwhelming [hostile] reaction from the media community and the international public,” Tamara Causidis, head of the Independent Trade Union of Macedonian Journalists, SSNM, said.

She said that the court ruling showed that freedom of speech was continuing to deteriorate in Macedonia.

Police detained the investigative journalist from the Nova Makedonija daily newspaper in May. He has been held in custody in Skopje’s Shutka prison ever since, despite calls by all the main journalistic associations in the country for his immediate release.

He was arrested in relation to an article he wrote in 2008 for Reporter 92 magazine in which he revealed the identity of a witness in an unresolved murder case.

The protected witness later told a court that his testimony regarding the murder was false and was made under threats from the police.

An investigative judge has reportedly demanded that the journalist reveal the identity of his source.

“Kezarovski has been detained for a publishing an article in which he revealed abuse by the police… which is in the public interest without question,” Causidis said.

The OSCE, the Association of European Journalists and the international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders have all condemned the arrest, calling for Kezarovski’s release.

“Journalists must be allowed to carry out investigative reporting in the public interest free from the threat of imprisonment and without being forced to reveal their sources,” Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE representative for freedom of the media, said earlier.

Reporters Without Borders wrote that it was “worried” by the decline in freedom of information in Macedonia, which is now ranked in 116th place out of 179 countries in the organisation’s 2013 press freedom index.

“Imprisoning a journalist for investigative reporting that was clearly in the public interest will not improve this situation,” the watchdog organization said.

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