February 23, 2024

24.02.2024 – Serbian Court Rules in Favor of RTS Editor in Defamation Case Against Serbian Singer

The recent verdict handed down by the First Basic Court in Belgrade, Serbia, on Tuesday 20 February 2024, marks a significant development in the legal battle between a Serbian singer and Oilvera Kovačević, editor at Radio Television of Serbia (RTS – https://www.rts.rs/sr/index.html).

Following a talk on a private TV channel, aired on 13 March 2022, where a singer made damaging allegations against Olivera Kovačević, the court ruled in favor of the latter, ordering the singer to pay a sum of 150,000 RSD (1,279.92 EUR) as compensation for moral damages caused by defamation.

The allegations centered on a claim made by the singer, that Olivera Kovačević had accepted a payment of 30,000 EUR to manipulate the outcome of the previous Eurovision Song Contest, what was vehemently denied by Olivera Kovačević and unsupported by any evidence.

The court also mandated that the singer covers the legal costs incurred during the trial and publish the court’s decision, without commentary or delay, in the newspaper Politika (https://www.politika.rs/).

Ivan Ninić, legal representative of Olivera Kovačević underscored the broader implications of the ruling, emphasizing that it not only defends Olivera Kovačević’s personal and professional integrity but also serves to protect the reputation and credibility of all Eurovision participants and jurors.

Furthermore, the court’s decision reflects a balancing act between the protection of individual dignity and the principles of freedom of expression, particularly in cases involving public figures like Olivera Kovačević, who occupies a prominent role as a journalist and editor at RTS. This ruling underscores the judiciary’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and preserving the integrity of public discourse in Serbia.

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.

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