Journalist Tomislav Kežarovski sentenced to four years and six months in prison

Event date: 
Tue, 2013-10-22 10:30
"The judgment of the Basic Court 1 in Skopje, which on 21st of October sentenced the journalist Tomislav Kežarovski to four years and six months in prison, is nothing short of scandalous, completely unjustified and without precedent in European jurisprudence, and it represents yet another nail in the coffin of the already buried freedom of expression in the Republic of Macedonia", stays in the press release sent yesterday by Initiative Board for the release of journalist Tomislav Kežarovski.
"The Initiative Board for the release of Kežarovski believed in the consciousness and conscience of the trial judges in the Court in Skopje and that they were aware that they are trialing a journalist who, by doing his job, reported of the illegal actions of people of power within the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Directorate of Security and Intelligence, in the murder case in the village of Oreshe. We closely monitored the procedure during which the only evidence presented against Kežarovski were two articles published in the magazine "Reporter 92" in November- December 2008.
By delivering this scandalous verdict, the court refused to evaluate the articles and was unable to come to the conclusion that the journalist had a clear and unequivocal public interest to inform the public that the police is inserting a false protected witness against the accused in the murder case in the village of Oreshe, even more so given that the jeopardized witness Zlatko Arsovski exposed himself and admitted that he was blackmailed by the police in order to become a protected witness. The court also ignored the fact that by releasing the record from the hearing, Kežarovski disclosed only the name, but not the surname of the jeopardized witness, with which his exact identity could not be revealed.
The judges obviously succumbed to heavy pressure and influence from the centers of power, so they chose to disregard the facts, and merely attributed the indictment in the ruling which states that Kezarovski committed the crime of revealing the identity of a jeopardized witness.
This is evidenced in the four year and six months prison sentence for the journalist, which is a drastic penalty for this crime, and is unprecedented in European jurisprudence. Even in trials before the Hague tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, journalists who revealed identities and published whole lists of names of protected witnesses in trials for genocide and mass murder were sentenced to 3 or 6 months of prison.
This unreasonable verdict and draconian penalty is the ultimate showdown with the freedom of media and freedom of expression and a direct public message to Macedonian journalists who dare to investigate and write about the abuses of authority and power – that they will surely end up behind bars.
We hope that this shameful verdict will raise the awareness of the democratic and the free public in Macedonia from which we expect full support by jointly acting towards bringing sense to judicial and political power in Macedonia",  stays in the press release sent yesterday by Initiative Board for the release of journalist Tomislav Kežarovski.
(Source: Initiative Board for the release of journalist Tomislav Kežarovski)
OSCE media freedom representative deeply concerned over today’s conviction of journalist in Skopje, statement from 21st of October 2013:
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today expressed deep concern about the sentencing of journalist Tomislav Kezarovski to four and a half years in prison by the Skopje First Basic Court.
“I am appalled by today’s sentence. This excessive conviction is a worrying development and sends a clear message of censorship to other journalists in the country,” Mijatović said.
Kezarovksi, an investigative journalist at the daily Nova Makedonija has been in detention since 28 May 2013 for an article he wrote in 2008 for Reporter 92 magazine in which he allegedly revealed the identity of a witness in a murder case. He is the only journalist in detention in the entire South East Europe region.
“Today’s verdict has serious consequences for free expression and media freedom. Criminal prosecution of reporters for their journalistic activities violates the fundamental human right to free expression and the country’s OSCE commitments to develop and protect free media,” Mijatović said.
“I reiterate my call to the authorities for Kezarovski’s urgent release; and also remind them of my official request to visit him in the detention centre where he is held.  I hope this request is treated as a matter of priority,” Mijatović said.
Kezarovski’s detention continues until the verdict becomes final.
The Representative has repeatedly raised concern over Kezarovski’s detention.
(Source: OSCE)
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