Peratović spent almost a full hour explaining to the members of the Mission that the case is connected to his writing about the trial of Josip Perković, former head of the communist secret police in the Socialist Republic of Croatia, who was sentenced on 03 August this year at the Provincial Court in Munich to life in prison for his involvement in the murder of Croatian political emigrant Stjepan Đureković in 1983 in Germany.
As the president of the Center for Civil Courage but also as the wife of the investigative journalist Željko Peratović, after having aced as the translator and witness at the meeting held on June 23, 2016 in the restaurant “Madera” in Zagreb between representatives of the International Mission on Media Freedom in Croatia and the said journalist, I have to reflect upon a wrong conclusion and certain inaccuracies in the report of the Mission that was presented to the Croatian public by the President of Croatian Journalists’ Association Mr. Saša Leković at the press conference that was held on August 09, 2016 and that were published on the website of the said journalist association at the following to link: “Croatia: Media Freedom in Turbulent Times”.
In am quoting a part of report on Joint International Mission in June 2016, page 10:
More recently, on May 28, 2015, award-winning investigative journalist Željko Peratović was badly beaten and nearly strangled to death by three men who broke into his home near Karlovac, central Croatia. Police arrested three suspects the following day, but later released them shortly thereafter pending further investigation. Prosecutors initially intended to charge the men with grievous bodily harm; this was upgraded to attempted murder at Peratovic’s urging. In February 2016, however, prosecutors announced they would drop the murder charge and seek conviction based on grievous bodily harm and home invasion.
The attack on Peratović is thought to be related the journalist’s coverage of corruption implicating the city of Karlovac and a public water company. Peratović, who received the 2014 prize in investigative journalism from HND, alleged in a meeting with the delegation serious shortcomings in the police investigation, including poor forensic work and a failure to properly question witnesses. Peratović left Croatia for Switzerland with his family following the attack.
Opinion of the Mission that the attack on journalist was linked to his writing about corruption in the city of Karlovac and public company “Croatian Waters” is wrong. Peratović spent almost a full hour explaining to the members of the Mission, consisting of:
Renate Schroeder, Director, European Federation of Journalists / International Federation of Journalists, Brussels;
Jane Whyatt, Director, European Center for Press and Media Freedom, Leipzig;
Scott Griffen, Director of Press Freedom Programmes at the International Press Institute (IPI) in Vienna;
Deniz Yazici, the OSCE Freedom of Media, OSCE, Vienna;
Dr. Rubina Moehring, Reporters Without Borders / Reporters Sans Frontières;
Boris Bergant, Member of the Board South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) and Advisor and former Deputy President, European Broadcasting Union, Geneva;
Oliver Vujović, Secretary General, South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), Vienna (Head of delegation),
that the case is connected to his writing about the trial of Josip Perković, former head of the communist secret police in the Socialist Republic of Croatia, who was sentenced on 03 August this year at the Provincial Court in Munich to life in prison for his involvement in the murder of Croatian political emigrant Stjepan Đureković in 1983 in Germany.
Members of the Mission: Oliver Vujović, Boris Bergant, Renate Schroeder and dr. Rubin Moehring particularly wanted to know why the President of HND and leading attorney of HND’s Center for Freedom of Expression refused to provide legal assistance to journalist in the case against the attackers. Peratović said that in 1998 and 1999 Vesna Alaburić as the corporative lawyer of the weekly magazine “Globus”, in which the reporter then announced that the said Perković three times threatened with a gun to kill him if he does not stop to write negatively about him, in collaboration with the then President of HND Jagoda Vukušić, refused to give public support and publicly condemn the procedure and then the powerful spy in the new Croatian state. The journalist said that only at the end of 1999 through the Union of Croatian Journalists he got support of the Secretary General of the International Federation of Journalists Aidan White. Renate Schroeder praised the reaction, as she said, “her former boss Aidan White.”
Before the meeting, the journalist submitted to the International Mission through colleagues from SEEMO all available documentation to the effect that he had done everything Saša Leković and Vesna Alaburić asked him to do, i.e. to inform them about the progress of the proceedings in order get support of the HND and in order to have the lawyer Alaburić to represent him in the proceedings concerning attempted murder, but they ultimately refused to do so without explanation. This is why Peratović left the Croatian Journalists’ Association. Some members of the commission themselves concluded that the refusal of the attorney Alaburić to represent journalist Peratović possibly lies in the fact that she once the represented Milivoj Petković who was accused of war crimes, in whose defense Croatia was interested and Josip Perković, as war assistant and adviser to the Minister of Defense possibly was involved in the incriminated events.
We remain at the meeting with these members of the mission for half an hour longer than expected and Boris Bergant, Renate Schroeder and dr. Rubina Moehring were particularly interested in my husband’s case, the link between the attack and trial in Munich, which had not yet completed, lack of functioning of the rule of law in the Republic of Croatia, the influence of the old socialist structure on political and other developments in country. We have known the last listed member since 2014 when, as president of the Austrian section of the RSF, in Vienna she awarded my husband with journalism award for series of articles about war crimes committed by Croatian soldiers in the early 90s in the region of Lika.
Representative of the OSCE requested certain technical information about the proceedings regarding attacks and threats against my husband and I provided these information. They contain no references to the “City of Karlovac and Croatian waters”.
It is particularly not true that after these attacks our family left Croatia and moved to Switzerland. We did announce our intention to leave but we finally decided to relocate and did so at the beginning of 2016 only after we were convinced that the Croatian Government and the Croatian Journalists’ Association obstruct attacks against my husband and threats against him and our family.
After having agreed to interview with the Mission my husband had expected an objective approach and we both were of the impression that the meeting took place in such an atmosphere. However, the report signed by Scott Griffen, Director of the freedom of the press, the International Press Institute (IPI), is anything but fair.
Because of all the above, I am deeply surprised and disappointed by the reports and I fear that our family won’t be safe even in Switzerland.