Messages to the government: you will not frighten and silence journalists!
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If the two-year sentence for journalist Tomislav Kezarovski is the way the government to intimidate journalists, then it failed, said President of the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) Naser Selmani at today’s meeting in front of the Court of Appeal Skopje where associations of journalists expressed outrage over the adopted decision.
On Tuesday (January 20th) organizers will hold another protest in front of the Court of Appeal Skopje and they are urging all citizens to come and support!
“We do not accept such calculations, because only one day in prison is too much for an innocent journalist and a great punishment that causes great damage to freedom of speech and freedom of the media. The Court of Appeal wants to convince us that the state is never wrong and it wants to discourage journalists critically to observe the work of state institutions. If the government wanted to frighten us, it will certainly not silence us and as never before are we united in defense of Kezarovski, because we are all Kezarovski,” said Selmani.
Tamara Chausidis, president of the Trade Union of Macedonian Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM) said that Kezarovski being sentenced to prison, whole journalism had been sentenced.
“Kezarovski is innocent and the Macedonian journalism is innocent, too. We as journalists will not be silent and accept the court decision because it is silencing journalists. On behalf of SSNM I urge all journalists, relatives, friends, and the general public to show solidarity in the fight for fair and professional journalism that denounces the government and helps the little man”, said Chausidis.
Experts, however, did not want to comment on whether the decision of the Court of Appeal Skopje is correct or not.
Lawyer Vlado Dzhivlidzhiev says judges who worked on the case “Liquidation” should give an explanation why they have made such a decision. He explains that there is nothing illegal in that Court of Appeal Skopje ruled two years in prison on Kezarovski, although regulatory minimum is four years in prison for revealing the identity of a protected witness, the crime for which the journalist was sentenced.
“Though now the new Criminal Code is in effect according to which the court cannot impose a sentence below the statutory minimum allowed, in the Court of Appeal’s decision there is nothing controversial because I guess journalist Kezarovski was tried under the old law because the action for which he is sentenced was committed in 2008. In this case the court decided to reduce the minimum initial penalty of Kezarovski below the permissible legal minimum that cannot be less than two years”, says Dzhilvidzhiev.
Journalist Tomislav Kezarovski will have to serve two years in prison instead of 4.5, announced Court of Appeal Skopje. Penalties have been reduced for the other five convicted, and for two the case has been returned for retrial. The court did not say whether Kezarovski will remain under house arrest until the decision becomes effective or not.
On October 21, 2013, the Criminal Court Skopje 1 convicted journalist Tomislav Kezarovski to 4.5 years imprisonment for, as the court explained, revealing the identity of a protected witness in research papers published in 2008 in the newspaper “Reporter 92”.
The journalist was detained in May 2013 and spent nearly six months in prison in Shutka. Since November 2013 he has been under house arrest.
Yesterday the Court of Appeal Skopje also reduced the sentences of five convicted, and for two the case was returned for retrial.
Editor: Stojanka Mitreska