Bosnian journalists on Monday urged the authorities to investigate the violent assault that took place on Sunday night against a Bosnian Serb reporter who covers political demonstrations.
Attacked near his home by two masked individuals in Banja Luka (north-west of Bosnia) while returning from a demonstration, Vladimir Kovacevic was hospitalised with head injuries, media reported on Monday.
The two attackers “knew where I lived […]; when I walked past them they started to beat me brutally,” the journalist wrote on his Twitter account where he posted a photo of himself with his head covered with bandages.
The US Embassy in Bosnia and the European Union have both condemned the attack on the journalist who works for the private television channel BN. “When journalists are silenced, society suffers,” the US diplomatic mission said in a statement on Twitter, while Brussels said that it is closely monitoring press freedom in the country.
The attack provoked outrage among the Bosnian press, prompting some 200 journalists to take to the streets in Banja Luka on Monday to express their dissatisfaction.
“One of our people has been attacked,” said Bosnian journalists’ association president Marko Divkovic, quoted by Al Jazeera, adding that he fears further violence against journalists in the run-up to elections scheduled for 7 October.
“It sounds like organized terror, coming from politics, justice and the police. All the limits have been exceeded, it’s an attempted murder,” Divkovic said.
ABC News quotes Faruk Kajtaz, who heads the journalists’ club of Bosnia, as saying “this is a problem that is definitely escalating.”
“I fear what is going to happen next, especially because we have the election campaign coming,” he added, referring to the upcoming general election.
Vladimir Kovacevic has been covering daily demonstrations since March, following the death of a student, David Dragicevic, which many in the country regard as a murder, though the authorities are treating it as an accident.
This computer science student has become the symbol of the revolt against the powerful and the corrupt, in a country where the mistrust towards the politicians run deep.
The representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for freedom of the media, Harlem Désir, called on the authorities to “to swiftly investigate this attack and bring its perpetrators to justice.”