The trial against six former and current journalists of Federal Television (FTV) for spreading religious and racial hatred, which was supposed to be held in Banja Luka last week, was postponed.
It’s been like this for the past six years. This is one of the few procedures in BiH where journalists are charged, not for defamation, but are already criminally responsible for their reporting, and in the worst case they may even end up behind bars, which is incompatible with democratic practices.
This is a case in which the accused Bakir Hadžiomerović, (pictured), former editor of the cult TV show 60 minutes, currently commentator in Dnevni Avaz, together with Sinan Šarić, Azra Pašukan, Željko Tica, Damir Kaletović and Darijan Babić.
The report was, interestingly, filed by journalists against colleagues. Namely, on January 17, 2012, the Republika Srpska Journalists’ Association (UNRS) filed a criminal complaint against four editors and two journalists of Federal Television (FTV) charged with committing the criminal offense to the District Prosecutor’s Office in Banja Luka. The indictment was confirmed on 11 July 2012 and filed on 28 June of the same year.
At the last hearing of the trial, Judge Spasen Keleman, as confirmed by Hadžiomerović, said that in the meantime the RS Criminal Code had been changed and that the member charged by these journalists no longer exists in such a form! He said that the whole case would be forwarded to the transitional council to make its decision. Despite this decision, the RS Prosecution has not dropped the charges against the journalist.
“There is no doubt that this is a political indictment, which is still here after six years. Symbolically, the indictment was filed June 28, on Vidovdan, and confirmed on July 11, 2012, on the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica! After all, because of our unequivocal assertions and evidence of genocide (which, of course, have been confirmed by international, as well as domestic courts in more verdicts), they are harassing us. I think, it’s complete nonsense now to explain who said the truth here. We who acknowledge the genocide, or those with whom that confession is bothered,” Hadziomerović told Media Daily.
They are invited, he adds, at work during the pre-election campaign. This situation is the same this time, right ahead of the General Elections in BiH.
“We have also adapted our obligations to our judicial obligations in Banja Luka. Meanwhile, the member of the Criminal Code under which we are charged has also been changed. I cannot predict what might happen in the future, but it is a really shameful fact that journalists are being trialed for a non-existent criminal offense, and nobody responds adequately to protect our human rights. Perhaps the unsuitable persons are accused, maybe we aren’t nice, but I do not see why well-known Borka Rudić is included in the story, who has been telling antics. At the hearing were representatives of the OSCE and the Society of Journalists of BiH, as well as some colleagues who obviously did not forget about us. This whole situation is frustrating, but, as a legalist, I am regularly responding to court calls. We will see what will eventually turn out,” says Hadžiomerović.
In the report, signed by the President of the RS Journalist Association Dragan Jerinić, it is stated that the special occasion of the political-informative magazine 60 minutes and the central news program Dnevnik 2 were broadcast on January 9, 2012.
Furthermore, Babić, Tica, Pašukan and Kaletović in FTV’s Dnevnik, or annexes to the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the RS, explicitly suggested to the viewers that the RS is genocidal.
Reporter Darjan Babić began direct report from Banja Luka with a sentence: ‘Good evening, Aida, from Banja Luka, the center of the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the Republika Srpska, the celebration of genocide and aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina’, states the report.
Bakir Hadžiomerović said at the plea hearing that this was a political process. He claims the same even today.
“As far as the application itself, it is concerned as deed. It is true that on Milorad Dodik’s order, Dragan Jerinić filed a lawsuit, who has not been a journalist for long time, whose so-called association has long since been extinguished, and who, as I have heard, has been dealing with a business with mini hydropower plants for years. I suppose that he has to thank the regime he was rewarded for his faithful service,” Hadžiomerović concluded.