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Crime-investigating television journalist gets death threats

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is a letter by the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an IPI affiliate, to Croatian authorities:

H.E. Ivo Sanader
Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia
Zagreb, Croatia
Fax: +385 1 6303 022, 6303 019

H.E. Ivica Kirin
Minister of Interior Affairs of the Republic of Croatia
Zagreb, Croatia
Fax: +385 1 6122 771

Vienna, 22 February 2007

Your Excellencies,

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is deeply concerned at several anonymous death threats made to Robert Valdec, the anchor and journalist of the investigative television programme, "Istraga", shown on Nova TV in Croatia.

Based on information provided to SEEMO, Valdec received several threats during 2006, but they became more serious in December 2006 when he received numerous death threats by telephone and email.

The television show "Istraga", which has been broadcast since September 2005, is a weekly criminal investigation programme. The programme shows a compilation of dozens of crime stories involving organized crime, violence against children or women, drug dealers, war crimes, and corruption, among others.

SEEMO supports the HND (Croatian Journalists' Association), which has asked Croatian officials to fully investigate the death threats made to Valdec. SEEMO also supports HND's assertion that those with legitimate complaints against the media have a range of different mechanisms through which to pursue these complaints. Death threats represent a serious attempt to pressure the media and they should be condemned whenever and wherever they occur.

SEEMO has also been informed that the police have started an investigation. With this in mind, we call on Your Excellencies to do everything in your power to protect Valdec's life and those of his family members, and to take all necessary steps against the person or persons responsible for these threats.

We would also like to remind you that, on numerous occasions in 2006, SEEMO has been informed of threats made to other investigative journalists in Croatia. SEEMO is deeply concerned about the safety of Croatian journalists and asks Your Excellencies to do everything in your power to urgently investigate these cases.

SEEMO views all of these threats as a serious violation of press freedom and the rights of journalists and would also point out that, around the world, the issue of a death threat is often the precursor to murder. Therefore, the authorities must take them seriously.

We thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,
Oliver Vujovic
SEEMO Secretary General

SEEMO is a regional network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East Europe.

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