On Friday, 15 October, former Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) MP Steva Culej, currently the president of the Association of Special Police from the Homeland War of the Republic of Croatia, said to journalist Gordan Duhacek that he wished the journalist was raped.
This happened after the High Criminal Court reduced the sentence for rape from two years in prison to one year and six months in prison for the former HDZ mayor of Lasinja Municipality, Zeljko Prigorac, because, according to the court’s decision, he is a “distinguished war veteran”, which was taken as a mitigating circumstance. Journalist Gordan Duhacek from Index.hr portal called Culej, introduced himself and asked for a comment. In addition to various insults, Culej told him: “You know what I’m sorry for? I would prefer that they rape you too! (laughter) And that they don’t bear sanctions”, and added “Write it down.”
The president of the Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA), Hrvoje Zovko, believes that this is one in a series of examples that show the kind of environment journalists work in, a hostile environment that CJA has been warning about for years. “We are asking the ruling HDZ party to respond to such unacceptable statements of its member. Also, CJA is asking institutions to react because the silence of institutions is an additional motive for individuals to continue with hostility towards journalists,” said Zovko.
SafeJournalists Network, representing more than 8,200 media professionals in the Western Balkans, joins its member CJA in condemning this kind of treatment of journalists by former officials. SafeJournalists Network calls on competent authorities in Croatia to react and show that this kind of speech is inadmissible in public space.
SafeJournalists Network will inform relevant national and international stakeholders about this case.
Each attack on journalists is an attack on public interest, democracy and rights of all citizens.
Skopje – Belgrade – Podgorica – Pristina – Sarajevo – Zagreb – Tirana, 17.10.2022
Association of Journalists of Kosovo
Association of Journalists of Macedonia
BH Journalists Association
Croatian Journalists’ Association
Independent Journalists Association of Serbia
Trade Union of Media of Montenegro