Radio Journalist and Presenter Found Dead in Home

Update: 23 Feb 2018 Resolved
Year 20 Jun 2016 Country Serbia Category Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner Index , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
20 Jun 2016 Serbia Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Unknown Index , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Level 1

Journalist and radio host Luka Popov from northern Serbia was found dead in his home in Srpski Krstur on Friday 17 June 2016. According to Serbian daily Blic, Popov’s body was found with visible injuries and he had been presumably “tortured and murdered”. The police are currently investigating the circumstances behind the death. The Serbian Journalist associations NUNS and UNS, and journalist association of Vojvodina DNV have urged the authorities to thoroughly investigate the circumstances around the journalist’s death. The OSCE has condemned the murder. The OSCE’s representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatović, said that the investigation "must be carried out in a swift and thorough manner." "The authorities must do their utmost to bring the perpetrators of this horrific murder to justice.” Luka Popov was the host of radio programs in the towns of Coka and Novi Knezevac.

Resolved On 21 June 2016, following the arrest of three individuals who confessed to the murder of Popov during an attempted burglary not related to his journalistic activities, the partners of the Platform declared this case to be "resolved”, concluding that it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

Updates

21 Jun 2016 : Following a swift investigation, three people have been arrested in connection with the crime.

Follow-ups

23 Feb 2018 : Commissioner for Human Rights: ‘Concerted efforts needed to protect media freedoms in Serbia’
20 Jun 2016 : OSCE Representative welcomes arrests following murder of journalist in Serbia, praises police swift action.
17 Jun 2016 : OSCE media freedom representative condemns murder of journalist in Serbia, calls on authorities for swift and thorough investigation.

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20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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