Saturday, April 11 shall mark 16 years from the day when Slavko Ćuruvija was murdered.
Almost exactly on the memorial day, 16 years on, the preparatory hearing will be held for the persons indicted for this murder.
This trial is important not only for its potential to bring a closure for one of the darkest chapters in our recent history,but also for the potential it carries to influence the future of journalism in Serbia.
According to the data collected by the Serbian Independent Association of Journalists (NUNS), there were as much as 22 cases of threats and/or physical assaults against media professionals in 2014 only. For the majority of these cases, perpetrators are still unknown–or alternatively, their true identity is known, but none of them have ever been tried or pronounced any penalty. Will the current trend of unpenalized assaults against journalists continue and will the journalists, fearing for their lives, retreat even more, resorting to self-censorship? What are our chances of becoming a free society, with journalists who are not afraid to freely pursue their profession?
These are the reasons why the “Ćuruvija” case must not be concluded before a court trial finally and undoubtedly proves the motives and identities of the people who ordered and those who committed this murder.
This is why the work of the Serbian Commission for the Investigation of Murders of Journalists must continue until solid indictments are presented and court cases initiated that will lead to uncovering the truth about the identities of actual perpetrators and principals of the murders of Dada Vujasinović and Milan Pantić.
This is why the state authorities must convince us by their further efforts that the trial of the persons indicted for the murder of Slavko Ćuruvija was not only a consequence of a single gesture of their political will, but instead a reliable sign of their lasting institutional determination to include freedom of thought and freedom of speech among values that the Serbian state essentially strives to achieve and those that it is ready to defend at any cost.
This is why the general public in Serbia should openly and persistently insist on complete and authentic information about murders and assaults against journalists, on penalties for those who ordered and committed those murders and assaults and on physical safety and security for all who pursue the journalists’ profession in Serbia.
Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation shall monitor closely this trial and shall report regularly on each new development in the course of the trial.