Court orders 30 days’ detention for two criminal gang members, Darko Lalovic and Branislav Karadzic, for preparing attack on Olivera Lakic in 2018 – as Deputy PM pledges tougher line on attacks on journalists.

Montenegro Detains Two Over 2018 Attack on Journalist

Police stand guard in front of the High Court in Podgorica. Photo: EPA-EFE/BORIS PEJOVIC

Montenegro’s High Court on Friday ordered 30 days’ detention for two members of an organised crime gang, Darko Lalovic and Branislav Karadzic, deemed responsible for preparing an attack on the journalist Olivera Lakic in 2018.

Judge Suzana Mugosa said they are suspected of following the journalist before she was attacked on May 8, 2018, passing on information about her movements to the so-called Kavac drug gang.

On December 15, police confirmed that Lalovic was an officer of theirs, while media said he had ties to a drug gang. Special State Prosecutor Milivoje Katnic said the police officer’s relations with drug gangs had yet to be confirmed through investigation.

Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic called on the prosecution to investigate all attacks on journalists. “Our institutions must protect journalists and we also have to investigate all the previous attacks. It’s time to show some results,” Abazovic told the media.

Lakic, a journalist with the Montenegrin daily Vijesti, was shot in the leg in front of her apartment building in the centre of the capital, Podgorica. That was not the first time she had been attacked. In 2012, a man in a black tracksuit struck her, also in front of her building.

The attack followed a series of threats she had been receiving since she wrote a series of articles about the Tara cigarette factory and the Montenegrin Tobacco Company in 2011.

The attack was condemned by the EU delegation and US embassy in Podgorica, the Council of Europe and the OSCE.

In its 2021 progress report, the European Commission warned that Montenegro’s progress in addressing violence against journalists and media had been limited, urging a full and effective judicial follow-up on attacks on journalists.

“In April 2021, the government established a new ad hoc commission for monitoring violence against the media, but it has not yet fully or effectively addressed the significant recommendations made by the previous commission,” the report said.

On March 30, the US State Department’s latest human rights report also said that unsolved attacks against journalists remained a significant problem in Montenegro.

It said more than two-thirds of the 85 attacks recorded on journalists since 2004 remained unsolved or did not result in sentences.

“Harassment of journalists, including use of physical force, was further reported in the course of 2020. Observers also noted that most of the attacks targeted independent or pro-opposition journalists and media professionals,” the report said.

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