The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed concern over problems encountered by local journalist Zeljko Bodrozic on 28 December in Kikinda, Serbia, and calls for an official, independent investigation of the case.
Bodrozic, editor of local daily Kikindske and vice president of the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS), was taken into custody on 28 December in Kikinda. Police officers arrived at the Kikindske premisesand arrested Bodrozic for not paying a parking ticket worth approximately 75 EUR.
Bodrozic tried to explain to the officers that he could easily pay the fine, but they insisted on leading him to the police car in handcuffs. Bodrozic refused, leading to a quarrel between the journalist and his colleagues and the officers. He was eventually escorted to the police car and station without handcuffs.
After three hours, including an interrogation for “obstructing officials in performing their duty”, Bodrozic was released. He paid the ticket fine, which local officials insist was the sole basis for the journalist’s arrest. However, Bodrozic says that it may have been due to the fact that one of his arresting officers was previously the subject of an article in Kikindske.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI). SEEMO’s press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.