In October 2004, journalist Helena Puljiz was called in for a benign talk, i.e., she was invited for coffee with “police employees”. When she arrived, Helena Puljiz demanded for the employees to identify themselves, and discovered that the police are not the police but Counter-Intelligence Agency, coffee isn’t so much coffee as it is harassment in the Agency’s office.
May 17, 2015
Authors: M. Podumljak and I. Horvatek.
Judge Jelica Pandurić established in the verdict for mobbing that “Journalist Željko Peratović was harassed by his superiors in his workplace from the period of September 2004 till August 2005”. Based on evidence, the court established that Željko Peratović was in that period exposed to “relentless harassment” by his superiors, predominantly by editor in chief Andrea Latinović and part of her deputies and assistants. According to judge Pandurić, the pressures and mobbing manifested in a way that Peratović was getting to do articles that subsequently didn’t get published. The editor demanded that Peratović disclosed his sources of information which would, according to judge Pandurić, discredit Peratović as an investigative journalist and consequently end his career. Also, he was being given topics that were potentially threatening, considering that he was forced to write about and contact the same people that he had already had conflicts with because of his writing.
All of the above, based on the findings from the court procedure, reflected on Peratović’s mental health.
Peratović commented on that period for Fairpress:
“I think it was about a week after the interview that my colleague Marko Barišić had conducted with Tomislav Karamarko that Andrea Latinović again came to my desk in the newsroom. Same as before, she started to loudly berate my work.
‘I just came from lunch I had with Tomislav Karamarko concerning you ‘, she told me. ‘I learned a lot about you’, she continued. ‘ Karamarko told me that you hang out with dubious characters like Zvonimir Trusić and all sorts of others’ , said Latinović. All the people in the newsroom were looking down again. I was dumbfounded. I mean, I had contacts with Zvonimir Trusić. Journalist contacts. He was from the group closely related to Merčep and the suspects in the Pakračka poljana case. Trusić was full of information about the people and events from that period and I occasionally took advantage of his information for a story I was working on. I then remembered that I would occasionally see Tomislav Karamarko, Vladimir Faber and other police officials, who were more than friendly with Trusić, in his illegal restaurant “Blato” located near Remetinac. Although I never contacted them, I saw them there. And now all out of a sudden it was a problem that I was contacting him, but in turn it wasn’t a problem that they were contacting him. Nothing was clear to me anymore. I had a feeling they were trying to condemn me in any way possible. For anything.
In the months that followed Latinović started to give me assignments which were extremely dangerous and could have cost me my life. In the infamous Turek presentation I was labelled as one of the journalists that were conducting “enemy and anti-government activities” in the Gotovina case. Then Latinović would give me an assignment of conducting interviews concerning people that aided Ante Gotovina’s getaway or with people that wanted to make a name for themselves by “knocking around” somebody who dared to write about Ante Gotovina’s escape.
Those were traumatic experiences, especially when you know that you have an obligation to hand in an article because your livelihood and your job depend on it. Regardless of the fact that I, despite limiting conditions, managed to hand in the requested articles, they were not being published. When they would get published, the interventions that were subsequently made would seriously damage the integrity my original articles. All in all – torment.
However, the real drama was just about to play out. Joško Podbevšek wasn’t removed from office at the moment the affair with his brother Petar broke out. He somehow managed to persist. However, during fall that year, POA (Counterintelligence Agency), i.e. the state, was shaken by another affair.
In October 2004, journalist Helena Puljiz was called in for a benign talk, i.e., she was invited for coffee with “police employees”. When she arrived, Helena Puljiz demanded for the employees to identify themselves, and discovered that the police are not the police but Counter-Intelligence Agency, coffee isn’t so much coffee as it is harassment in the Agency’s office. She experienced threats, warnings and was offered awards for an “associate position” in the Counter-Intelligence Agency. So, a classic case of recruitment. All Helena Puljiz was supposed to do was agree to cooperate, occasionally write a few tailored articles and discredit Agency’s targets in public. In turn she would get resolution of her existential issues (tenure journalist position, author’s comment) and the “protection” of the Agency concerning her work and life (resolving her petty violations and crimes if she happened to have an occasional slip-up, author’s comment). However, Helena Puljiz decided not to accept her “cooperative” status, went to the authorities, affair leaked to the public and complete chaos ensued.
In November and December of 2004 a special commission was called upon to investigate the claims. There were various speculations in public that the real target in the Puljiz case was the president at the time, Stjepan Mesić. Namely, he was de facto the decision maker concerning the election of officials in the security service. This time everything fell into place, and Karamarko was back in the game.
Already during December of 2004, Karamarko was appointed as the Director of Counter-Intelligence Agency, and even greater hardships were ahead of me. Pressures, threats and unpleasant situations in the newsroom were becoming more and more intense. I was forced to contact the Prime Minister Ivo Sanader. Considering that Vjesnik was owned by the state, I requested that the Government of the Republic of Croatia, as the owner of the newspaper, protect me from mobbing. I eventually went to see a doctor because all the above had affected my physical health. I was becoming sensitive about the little things in my private life. I started to react harshly and impulsively in my family surroundings, with my father, wife, even with my little daughter. I slowly begin to realise that something was happening with me. Something that was beyond my control.