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Crisis 1999
News Archive 1999

Television producer gaoled

BELGRADE, July 8, 1999 -- ANEM, Yugoslavia's Association of Independent Electronic Media protests strongly at the sentencing of TV Leskovac producer Ivan Novkovic to thirty days' imprisonment. Novkovic was sentenced by a municipal misdemeanours judge in Leskovac. ANEM also protests at Mr Novkovic's dismissal from TV Leskovac.

On July 1, during a break in a basketball match between Yugoslavia and Germany, Mr Novkovic put to air his own message to the Leskovac audience, calling on them to gather in the town's central square on July 5 to protest against the policies which have led Serbia to the brink of poverty and caused the unwarranted destruction of the country.

Some 25,000 Leskovac citizens subsequently attended the July 5 rally at which Mr Novkovic spoke. One of the protests demands was that the local media in Leskovac begin reporting objectively and stop false propaganda representations of the desperate situation in the southern Serbian town. A second rally was announced for the following day, July 6.

In the morning of July 6, the municipal misdemeanours judge found Mr Novkovic guilty of organising a public gathering which had not been registered with the police and sentenced him to a month's imprisonment. As a result of this ruling, protesters at that day's rally in Leskovac clashed with police as they demanded that Novkovic be released from prison immediately.

Novkovic was also immediately dismissed by TV Leskovac after the conviction.

ANEM gives full support to Mr Novkovic's action and his courage in speaking up publicly on a television station which is under the strict editorial control of the regime. ANEM demands that Ivan Novkovic be released immediately from prison and reinstated as TV Leskovac's producer.

Source: B92

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