Supreme Court judgement in Zovko case is pressure on journalism, says HND

NEWS 20.05.202416:38 0 komentara
Sanjin Strukic / PIXSELL

The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) reiterated on Monday that the decision by which the Supreme Court overturned a judgement on the unlawful dismissal of HND chairman Hrvoje Zovko from public broadcaster HRT represents pressure on the HND and an attack on journalism.

The Secretary General of HND, Melisa Skender, reiterated that HND considers the Supreme Court’s decision to be wrong and has declared Zovko’s unlawful dismissal lawful.

“It is our right to appeal. We in the HND are unanimous in our opinion that this is an attempt to put pressure on the HND in order to discredit Hrvoje Zovko,” said Skender.

“We have the right to suspect the motives behind this decision”

She emphasised that during Zovko’s tenure, the HND had organised several successful protests and campaigns, initiated a survey on SLAPP lawsuits, offered its model for financing local media, but also “warned the public about dangers” such as the Lex AP or the Media Act. She also pointed out the timing of the Supreme Court’s decision.

N1 / Ana Raić

“Given the fact that the Supreme Court’s decision was made just over two months after HND’s protest against Lex AP and HND’s constant warnings that (Prime Minister) Andrej Plenkovic and (his) HDZ want to completely control the media, we have the right to suspect the motives behind this decision.”

Skender said the HND was certain that this decision was “taken by the new coalition partners, who immediately declared undesirable media and journalists enemies of the state.”

A member of the HND Executive Committee, Branko Mijic, pointed to the political background of this case and described it as an attack on journalism.

HND: The judgement of the Supreme Court is full of inconsistencies

“There is no doubt that this judgement of the Supreme Court is basically just a retaliation for the fact that Hrvoje Zovko, as President of HND, led people to the streets on 31 January to protest against the appointment of Ivan Turudic as State Attorney-General and against the adoption of Lex AP,” said Mijic.

Lex AP refers to amendments to the Criminal Code that criminalise the unauthorised disclosure of information from investigations.

Zovko was sacked from HRT in September 2018 after a conversation with his supervising editor Katarina Perisa-Cakarun, in which he asked to be relieved of his editorial duties due to censorship, escalated into a conflict.

Based on testimonies from HRT employees, both the Zagreb City Court and the Rijeka County Court found that there was no violent behaviour by Zovko towards Perisa-Cakarun or other female colleagues, so there was no valid reason for his dismissal. HRT lost seven court cases against Zovko from 2019 to 2022.

The HND emphasised that the Supreme Court’s ruling was full of inconsistencies and that the panel of judges had completely ignored the most important circumstances of the events as well as the witness testimonies.

The HND announced that Zovko would challenge the judgement with a constitutional complaint and continue the legal dispute.

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