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Bosnian journalist severely beaten in Banja Luka

Bosnian journalist severely beaten in Banja Luka Banja Luka protest, Photo by Radoslav Miskovic

BANJA LUKA (Bosnia and Herzegovina), August 27 (SeeNews) – Vladimir Kovacevic, a journalist working for Bosnian radio-television company BN, said he was severely beaten on Sunday night in Banja Luka by two hooded men as he was returning home from work.

"Twenty minutes ago, as I was coming back from work, two guys jumped on me and beat me with metal rods," Kovacevic, who is in hospital undergoing medical treatment, said last night on his Twitter profile.

BNTV condemned the assault in a statement on Monday and called on the internal ministry of the Serb Republic to take action.

The editorial board noted that BNTV's journalists have been targeted by "certain political circles" for some time and asked the interior ministry to ensure safe work conditions for all journalists.

The Association of BH Journalists also denounced the attack in a statement on Monday and called on all journalists to stage a protest if the crime is not solved within the next five days.

"This attack is the culmination of the prolonged and unpunished violence against BNTV and other media in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which we have been witnessing since the beginning of this year and which urgently must stop," the association said. It emphasized that the president of the Serb Republic, Milorad Dodik, has too often directly and publicly humiliated journalists and media by declaring them enemies of the state, spies, and foreign mercenaries.

The Serb Republic is one of two entities that make up Bosnia and Herzegovina, the other is the Federation.

Just prior to the attack, Kovacevic was reporting on the Justice for David peaceful protests, which have been taking place every evening in Banja Luka for over five months. 

The protesters are demanding the truth about the death of 21-year old David Dragicevic, whose body was found a week after his disappearance in the shallow waters of the Crkvena river in the very centre of the city. At first the police said David had accidentally drowned, but following an immense public outcry the District Prosecutor's Office ordered an investigation into the young man's murder.

In April, non-governmental organisation Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) said that the polarized political climate in Bosnia and Herzegovina, marked by constant verbal attacks and nationalist rhetoric, is not a favourable environment for press freedom.

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