Leipzig-Podgorica-Vienna, 5 April 2018 – In Montenegro, police are investigating an explosion that destroyed a hired car parked outside the home of TV journalist Sead Sakinović. Two men have been arrested. ECPMF spoke to the journalist.
“This is a worrying development in Montenegro, an EU candidate country where the protection of journalists and their right to broadcast critical stories should be taken seriously. We urge the authorities to carry out a swift and thorough investigation,“ says ECPMF’s managing director Lutz Kinkel.
Two men have been arrested in connection with the late-night bombing on April 1st. They have been detained for thirty days. The local police spokesperson said in a statement that the incident is connected to Sead Sadiković’s satirical report on his TV Vijesti series “Bez Granica” (No Limits) about a private museum. The broadcast had provoked strong reactions in social media.
Assistant Director of the Police Administration, Enis Bakovic, said the motive for attacking Sadikovic was his work on the “Načisto” (clear) episode of the show about the museum in the town of Rozaj.
A statement on the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia’s Safety of Journalists platform says:
Montenegrin journalists and media workers have been a vulnerable category for a long time and the state has not done enough to prevent attacks or resolve some of the most serious cases of attacks on journalists and media assets. SMCG has repeatedly warned that some of these cases will become time-barred if there is not a timely reaction. Therefore it is important to quickly and efficiently investigate last night’s explosion in Bijelo Polje in order to prevent this incident from becoming ‘forgotten’.”
“Hoping that our colleague Sadiković was not the target of the last night’s attack, although we fear that he was, once again we request from the authorities to inform the public as soon as possible about all circumstances of the explosion.”
Oliver Vujovic, general secretary of ECPMF’s partner organisation the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), said: “We need a transparent investigation of this case by the authorities in Montenegro. I hope also that the authorities will re-open investigations of cases of attacks on journalists in Montenegro in the past, where we still do not have answers on who attacked the journalists or ordered the attacks”.
A wave of bombings and killings – believed to be connected to drug deals and some other criminal activities – has swept across Montenegro in recent weeks and years. Pokice chief Slavko Stoyanovic resigned on 31st March after two people were shot dead in Podgorica. On 4 April members of civil society organisations demonstrated outside the Ministry of the Interior. The protest was organised by the Network of Non-Governmental Organisations Open Platform. Further demonstrations are planned.
Journalist Sead Sadiković spoke to the ECPMF through his son Seid who translated from Croatian into English:
Why do you think your were the target for this bomb?
For political reasons. The police said they [the alleged perpetrators] were motivated by the TV broadcast he made. But he thinks the attack has a political background, not caused by the TV show.
Before the bomb, were there any other warnings or threats?
There were, but not too serious. They only said the would avenge their uncle.
What ist he general situation like for your father and journalists in Montenegro?
Very dangerous, like for most journalists, they are not safe here. There was cases like Tufic Softic and Dusko Jovanovic. In this situation now everything can be used as a reason for an attack on journalists.
What would you like to say to the police and the authorities about this situation?
It is necessary to find the person who ordered the attack. The persons arrested are only being manipulated. They are just pawns. They are casualties, too.
Do you know who ordered the attack?
That is someone in the local government.
What effect has it had on your family?
We are not scared. We are in danger but we are not scared, because if we were scared by this attack, the attack would succeed. We are, I can say, brave. We are holding on in this situation.
What about police protection?
We reported the earlier threats. The police also work with the persons who attacked us. So there is no point in police protection. Especially the agency for national security. They are doing a political, not a national job.
How could we help in the international media community?
You could help by presenting this situation to the world, saying how this situation is bad and journalists are threatened every day, and showing the world what happened here.