Journalists and media associations: Investigate who in the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) hid evidence in the “Dragojlo Blagojevic case”

Journalists’ and media associations demand that the authorities determine who is responsible for hiding key evidence in the case of “threats to Drvotehnika journalist Dragojlo Blagojevic” and how this happened. Journalists’ and media associations deem worrisome the explanation of the Department for Internal Control of the the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) that it was a technical error, and they expect MUP to conduct an internal control procedure in accordance with the law and determine who is responsible. This would contribute to mutual trust between the associations and MUP and to improvement of the safety of journalists.


On August 26, the Third Basic Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade made a decision to dismiss the criminal complaint because it was established that, at the time when Blagojevic claims that the call in question took place, no calls were made to the specified landline number. Following the insistence of the Standing Working Group for the Safety of Journalists that there were calls at the critical moment, as well as the impossibility for the injured party to obtain information about incoming calls from Telekom, the prosecution directly requested a list of incoming calls from Telekom. In Telekom’s official response, it was confirmed that Dragojlo Blagojevic received the call on 12 July 2022 at 11.45 pm.


At the meeting of the Standing Working Group for the Safety of Journalists, the Deputy Public Prosecutor of the Republic Branko Stamenkovic presented to the members of the Group the report of the Department of Internal Control of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which was prepared at the order of the Third Basic Prosecutor’s Office due to the suspicion that key evidence in the case of threats to the journalist was concealed within the police, which is why criminal charges were dismissed.


The report of the Department of Internal Control Sector states that an interview was conducted with a person from MUP who reported to the prosecution that there were no calls made in the critical period. However, no interview was conducted with the person who had access and insight into the Telekom database from which the data was taken. The report states that the critical call was not registered by the competent department of MUP, that the reasons are of a technical nature and that efforts will be made to eliminate them.


The representative of the prosecutor’s office in the Standing Working Group informed the members that another case was formed to clarify the facts regarding the discrepancy between the data from Telecom and the competent department of MUP. The Higher Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade accepted the complaint of the injured party Blagojevic, and the decision was submitted to the Third Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade, after which the prosecutor’s office will continue its proceedings in order to identify the perpetrator.


On July 11, 2022, the editor of the newspaper Drvotehnika, after the publication of a new issue in which he wrote about the malfeasance by the head of Srbijasume, received a telephone threat stating that he would “die soon”. In the report about threats, Blagojevic pointed out his suspicion that the threats were directed to him by the acting director of Srbijasume, who is closely connected with the top of the Socialist Party of Serbia, and who has addressed similar threats to him before. 


Journalists’ and media associations believe that the police investigation is cursory and deem shameful the police explanation that they did not see a phone call that clearly took place. We express our fear that it was not only a technical problem, especially bearing in mind that the report of the Department of Internal Control Sector does not show that a conversation was held with the person who had direct access to the database. Also worrying is the testimony of the person who forwarded the data that “it is not the first time that this kind of mistake has happened”. This is a serious problem and it must be determined urgently what really happened, because such actions of MUP only further endanger the safety of journalists and undermine the prosecutor’s investigation, while the task of MUP is to protect journalists who have received threats, not to obstruct the processing of cases. Journalists’ and media associations demand that everyone accountable in this case be heard, from the technical level, i.e. persons who have access to the Telekom database, to the responsible persons of the Department of Criminal Operational Analytics and other superiors. Journalists’ and media associations believe that it is necessary to review the archive of dismissals that have occurred in a similar manner in order to determine whether there have been similar omissions in the past.


Coalition for Media Freedom (Association of Media, the Association of Online Media (AOM), the Independent Association of Journalists of Vojvodina (NDNV), the Independent Journalists Association of Serbia (NUNS), the Business Association of the Association of Local and Independent Media “Local Press” and the Slavko Curuvija Foundation), Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) and Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS)



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