Journalists and lawyers want Kezarovski to be acquitted
The only possible verdict is acquitting journalist Tomislav Kezarovski, said the “Advisory Board for Release of journalist Kezarovski” at the start of today’s public debate in Appellate Court Skopje for the case “Liquidation”. At the same time, the Judicial Council of five members reviewed the appeals of the eight convicted, including journalist Kezarovski who was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for articles published in the magazine “Reporter 92” in 2008
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Tomislav Kezarovski is convicted of something that is the basis of our work as journalists, stated today Tamara Causidis, president of the Macedonian Independent Union of Journalists and Media Professionals after the beginning of the review of appeals of the convicts in the case “Liquidation”.
“We expect only one possible verdict, and it is acquitting Kezarovski. We also expect the court to lift the house arrest”, said Causidis.
While journalists peacefully expressed their support in front of the court, in the courtroom of Appellate Court Skopje, lawyers of the convicted fought a court battle to prove that eight convicted are not guilty.
Filip Medarski, lawyer of journalist Kezarovski, in the rationale for the appeal against the imprisonment, said it was an exceptional impact on freedom of expression.
“We constantly talk about threatened witness and there is not a written act anywhere under which this status has been received. This decision has not been derived and explained in the judgment. I ask the court to read Kezarovski’s disputed texts to see if the identity of the witness was truly threatened. If his identity was discovered, why the witness “Birch” was later given the status of protected witness”, asked Medarski.
Besides Kezarovski, appeals of seven others judges, prosecutors, lawyers and businessmen were reviewed at today’s debate, also sentenced to prison for crimes, revealing the identity of a protected witness, mediation in bribery, abuse of official position.
Support comes from all sides
Even after a year and a half since the arrest of journalist Kezharovski there are reactions of domestic and world public.
Yesterday, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) issued a joint statement in which, among other things, it was written that “Macedonian authorities must ensure that all the absurd charges against journalist Tomislav Kezarovski will be withdrawn, so that justice and freedom of expression will prevail”.
“Tomislav Kezarovski is unfairly punished for doing his job and protection of his sources. We demand justice to be confirmed Kezarovski to go away from this nightmare as a free man”, said President of the Federation Jim Boumelha, who visited the journalist in his home in March this year.
EFJ made a short video which shows international solidarity for Kezarovski.
At the end of the month, a joint delegation of the European and International Federation will meet Andrej Lepavcov, Ambassador of Macedonia to the European Union to discuss the case “Kezarovski” and the violations of media freedom in the country.
Also yesterday, at the celebration of the Macedonian Revolutionary Struggle, “Advisory Board for Release of journalist Tomislav Kezarovski” put flowers near the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle to mark one year since the police did not allow journalists to protest in front of the museum and ask for their colleague’s release.
“A year later we are here again to remind you that our colleague Kezarovski is still in custody. We want to emphasize that the fight for freedom and human rights still goes on and we know that on this day, the foundation of the historical VMRO idea, the thought and the agenda was fight for freedom and human rights, but unfortunately today’s government does not respect these ideals of VMRO. We urge judges to judge under the law and rights, to give up the political pressure and to show courage and professionalism, make a fair decision and release our colleague”, said journalist Zoran Dimitrovski.
On 21 October 2013, Primary Court Skopje 1 convicted journalist Tomislav Kezarovski to 4.5 years prison for, as the court explained, revealing the identity of a protected witness in the texts published in 2008 in the magazine “Reporter 92”.
The journalist was arrested in May last year and spent almost six months in prison Sutka. Since last November he has been under house arrest. After reviewing the appeals of the eight convicted, Skopje Appellate Court will have to decide whether to confirm the first instance sentences, whether to increase or decrease or return the case to trial again in Primary Court Skopje 1.
Macedonia in company with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Congo
Jordan, Russia, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Macedonia, Pakistan and the Republic of Congo are countries that in 2013 had journalists in prison, announced the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) based in New York in the latest report at the end of 2013.
“In 2013, 211 journalists were in prison around the world. This figure is lower than last year when 232 journalists were imprisoned, but still remains at historically high level. 52 journalists were killed which is a third less than in 2012, although other 30 are missing in the wars in Syria, where 21 journalists were killed. Six journalists were killed in Egypt, five in Pakistan, four in Somalia, three in Brazil and Iraq, while in Mali and Russia two journalists were killed”, says the CPJ report.
With 40 imprisoned journalists in 2013, second year in a row Turkey is a country – world record holder. Followed by Iran and China as in the prisons in these countries there are more than half of the total numbers of journalists imprisoned worldwide. Last year in Vietnam there were 18 journalists behind bars unlike 2012 when that number was 14. Then follow Eritrea, Syria, Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Uzbekistan and the United States. Macedonia is also on the list with one imprisoned journalist.
Hague Tribunal with most convicted of revealing a protected witness
With the exception of the judgments of Hague Tribunal, in Europe there is almost no trial run against journalists for revealing the identity of a protected witness in cases where people accused of serious crimes and organized crime are prosecuted.
According to the court, in the last twenty years four Croatian journalists have been sentenced for this crime. Two of them were fined 15,000 Euros for public release of the testimony from a closed session of a protected witness at the court in the case of Croatian General Tihomir Blaskic. Another Croatian journalist was sentenced to three months imprisonment and a 10,000 Euros fine for publishing a list of witnesses on his website, including those who were also protected in the case “Blaskic”.
For revealing the name of a protected witness in the case “Haradinaj”, a journalist of Kosovo newspaper “Haji”, who reported tribunal’s trials, was fined 7,000 Euros.
However, as the most characteristic is the case of the Croatian journalist Domagoj Margetic, who in 2005 was convicted by the Hague Tribunal for contempt of court. According to the explanation, Margetic, along with Markica Rebic, Stjepan Seselj and Ivica Marijacic revelaed that former Croatian president Stipe Mesic was a protected witness in the case of Croatian General Tihomir Blaskic. Margetic was fined 20,000 Euros. Margetic was sentenced by the Hague Tribunal in 2006, when the then prosecutor Carla Del Ponte charged him for revealing the identity of prosecution’s protected witnesses. Then Margetic was sentenced to three months in jail and a 10,000 Euros fine.
Outside Europe, however, the court in Cairo in June this year sentenced six journalists for, as assessed by judges, distortion of information and cooperation with the banned organization, “Muslim Brotherhood”.
Australian Peter Greste, Mahamat Fadel Fami, Egyptian – Canadian journalist and producer Bahter Muhammad of television “Al Jazeera” in English language were sentenced to seven years in prison. For a similar accusation three other journalists received prison sentences of ten years. Earlier Egyptian authorities released Abdullah Elshamy, another “Al Jazeera” journalist who works in the Arabic language program.
A month ago, members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) presented a video message where photo reporter John Cantlie was recorded, kidnapped in November 2012, as next on the list after the execution of American journalists, James Foley and Stephen Sotloff.
Editor: Stojanka Mitreska