CROATIA: Deadly Car Bomb Attack on Publisher of NACIONAL Weekly in Croatia

CROATIA, 24/10/2008

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a regional organisation of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe, and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), strongly condemns the car bombing that killed Ivo Pukanic, journalist and owner of the NCL Media Group in Zagreb, and Niko Franjic, marketing director of the weekly newspaper Nacional, which is published by NCL.

According to information before SEEMO, Pukanic and Franjic were killed, and the two other Nacional employees injured, at 6.20 pm on 23 October 2008, when a car bomb exploded in front of the offices of the NCL Media Group in the centre of the Croatian capital Zagreb.

SEEMO views this bombing as one of the most serious attacks on press freedom in the past years, not just in Croatia, but in the entire South East European region.

Pukanic had in the past repeatedly informed SEEMO about threats he received, starting in 2002. On 9 April of this year, an unidentified assailant carrying a gun with a silencer approached Pukanic on the street in front of his apartment, threatened to kill the journalist, and then shot at him from a distance of several metres. Pukanic fortunately escaped injury at that time.

Pukanic started his career with the weekly Start and, beginning in 1991, worked for the weekly Globus. Hewas the co-founder, in 1995, of the weekly Nacional. Pukanic was named journalist of the year in Croatia in 1999, and received several other awards for investigative reporting, among other achievements. Over the years he built a media company with several regular publications, and last year also opened the NCL Journalism School.

SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic condemned the killings in the strongest possible terms, noting that he was “alarmed about this heinous crime.” He emphasized that many Croatian journalists were attacked or seriously threatened during the past year, and that Croatian authorities had not yet found those responsible. He said this made it particularly important for “Croatian authorities to initiate a swift and transparent investigation into the incident, and to bring those responsible to justice.”

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