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Today at the Municipal criminal court of Zagreb, the trial of the three attackers who attacked journalist Željko Peratović began. To recall, on 28 May 2015 around 7 p.m. Željko Peratović was physically attacked at the estate owned by his wife in Luka Pokupsko by persons he didn’t know at the time, without any direct or indirect motive; he sustained severe bodilyl injuries.

Three days after the attack, Peratović filed a complaint to the State’s Attorney Office and the rest of the competent institutions for the unprofessional action of the police in his case, expressing suspicion that someone ordered his intimidation, which ended up in attempted murder.

On June 15 last year, Peratović filed criminal charges at the County State’s Attorney Office in Karlovac against the identified perpetrators for inciting murder and for attempted murder. The County State’s Attorney Office accepted the criminal charges for the attempted murder of Peratović and issued a decision on the basis of the charges to conduct an investigation. However, in the meantime the State’s Attorney Office decided to retrain the attack on Peratović from attempted murder

to attempted infliction of serious bodily injuries.

In a telephone conversation Željko Peratović expressed to Fairpress his satisfaction with the starting of the trial:

The judicial police was present, photographers and some colleagues I invited as well. After a long time I felt satisfied, taking into consideration the past experience with the judiciary during the whole investigation when I felt degraded. Although, the trial was held in Zagreb, not in Karlovac. Someone obviously felt that it wouldn’t be fair for it to be held in Karlovac. The judge allowed me to say everything that I wanted to say, even that it was an ordered attempt of murder.

Peratović said that the next hearing is scheduled for 9 May this year and that, considering the outcome of this hearing, he’ll probably show up at the next one. Franjo Požgaj, witness of the attack on Peratović, will be questioned at the next hearing.

Related articles: Investigative journalist Željko Peratović attacked; The wall of silence from competent authorities from the moment Peratović was attacked offers us no assurance that the attackers will be brought to justice; Peratović: I hope that the person that contracted my attack will be revealed; I will do everything in my power to find out the truth; Witness in the case of the attempted murder of investigative journalist Željko Peratović threatened: It’s obvious that the cases are connected and that this is all about intimidation; Željko Peratović: I hope the President of the Patriotic Coalition, now Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, Tomislav Karamarko, will stay true to his pre-election promise that there will no longer be room in HDZ for those against whom an indictment will be issued.

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On 8 March this year the County Court of Zagreb issued a final judgment upholding the verdict of the Municipal Labour Court of April 2015 in the case Peratović – Vjesnik ordering Vjesnik d.d. to pay damages to the plaintiff Željko Peratović in the amount of 89.250.00 HRK, because he suffered a violation of rights of personality because of the violation of reputation and honour, including legal costs in the amount of 37.400 HRK increased for default interest.

Vjesnik d.d. at the time, filed an appeal on the verdict which was dismissed as unfounded by this final judgment of the County Court. Considering that the newspaper Vjesnik was shut down, Peratović should receive the reimbursement from the printing office Vjesnik which is state-owned. Based on the presented evidence, the court found that journalist Željko Peratović, in the period from summer 2004 to August 2005 when he received an extraordinary cancellation of labour contract, was harassed by direct subordinates, he was exposed to inappropriate pressure by the editor in chief and her assistants and that fewer and fewer of his articles were being published after he published the article on the candidate for the head of one of the security services in the Republic of Croatia. Furthermore, the judgment states that they put him in potentially dangerous situations even though they knew he received threats from certain circles he wrote about in his articles; that they tried to discredit him as an investigative journalist insisting he reveal the sources from which he received information he wrote about in his articles, all of which finally reflected on the state of his health.

Based on the findings and opinion of expert dr. Markić, it was established that the plaintiff, due to the described harassment at his workplace, suffered fear and his life and work ability were diminished. For Fair-

press, journalist Željko Peratović reflected on the final judgment:

I hope this judgment will encourage other colleagues who find themselves in a similar situation to, along with the support, courage and solidarity of witnesses, engage in a legal battle. That is also one of the ways to protect the profession and media freedom in the Republic of Croatia. The judgment is important, because it confirms the first instance verdict which found that 11 years ago at a state-owned paper I was exposed to political pressures on the foundations of the profession (not disclosing sources and the like) and not just on me as an individual. I thank the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists (SNH) very much, which has supported me unconditionally all of these years, paying for my lawyer, not doubting that there are reasons for us to do this.

To recall, from September 2004 to getting an extraordinary notice, Peratović was exposed to continuous harassment in the workplace; after it was published in the daily paper Vjesnik in March 2004 that several journalists, including himself, were presented to the state leadership of the Republic of Croatia by the former Director of the Counterintelligence Agency (POA) at the time, as journalists conducting enemy activities, the editor in chief Andrea Latinović said that she had received many complaints regarding Peratović’s writing and so his professional marginalisation began. On the above mentioned, Fairpress has written a large feuilleton, the media occasionally reported on this and the professional associations (HND, reporters Without Borders) reacted in critical situations.

Connected articles: DOSSIER PERATOVIĆ I: Newspaper stories that possess real value are the ones that produce effect. They are the ones that lead to change. That is the very essence of journalism – the effect and changes they evoke in society.; DOSSIER PERATOVIĆ II: Does an official, who is not capable of providing legitimate information about his career, deserve to be an official?; DOSSIER PERATOVIĆ III: Nada Peratović was simply present, alongside a husband who was suffering, trying to keep their family together; DOSSIER PERATOVIĆ IV: Journalist Željko Peratović was harassed by his superiors in his workplace; DOSSIER PERATOVIĆ V: 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; DOSSIER PERATOVIĆ VI: You can’t fight the system alone; DOSSIER PERATOVIĆ VII: Is Željko Peratović’s excruciating life agony really over?DOSSIER PERATOVIĆ VII: Is Željko Peratović’s excruciating life agony really over?

 

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On the session held on 22 January of this year, the Municipal court in Karlovac confirmed the indictment against Željko Šafar and Alen Horvat for threatening a witness in the case of attempted murder of investigative journalist Željko Peratović. The aforementioned people are charged for intimidation of Franjo Požgaj, witness of the physical attack on Peratović which happened at the end of May last year in Luka Pokuspska. On 15 June Peratović filed a criminal charge at the County State’s Attorney office in Karlovac for soliciting to murder and attempted murder against known perpetrators. The County State’s attorney office accepted the criminal charge for attempted murder of Peratović and issued a decision on the basis of the charge to conduct an investigation. The investigation showed that regarding the case of the attack on Željko Peratović, it’s a police criminal charge on the attempt to inflict serious physical injuries. The perpetrators are suspected of committing a crime against life and limb, i.e. attempted murder.

In the argumentation of the verdict it says that the accused Željko Šafar submitted a response to the indictment in which he states that the factual state isn’t determined in detail and he proposes a hearing of the witnesses. The second accused, Alen Horvat, did not submit a response to the indictment.

After reviewing the supplied evidence, the indict council presided by judge Jasmina Štrucelj, found that the indictment had grounds, as it states in the verdict.

For Fairpress, Željko Peratović commented on the confirmed indictment:

Head of HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union), Željko Šafar was accused under article 139 of the Criminal Code/11, paragraph (1) Whoever seriously threatens another with some evil so as to frighten or disturb him shall be punished by imprisonment

up to one year; and paragraph (3). If the criminal offense referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article is committed against an official or a responsible person in connection with his work or position or against a journalist and his work, or against more persons, or if it has caused a major disturbance to citizens, or if the threatened person is thus put in a difficult position for a longer period of time, the perpetrator shall be punished by imprisonment from six months to five years. Alan Horvat was accused under the same article of the Code, but under paragraph (2): Whoever seriously threatens to kill another or someone close to them, to inflict serious bodily injury, to kidnap or deprive them of their liberty, or inflict harm by setting fire, causing an explosion by using ionizing radiation, weapons, or by other dangerous means, or to destroy a person’s social status or material existence, shall be punished by imprisonment of three years.

Furthermore, Peratović added that he hopes that the president of the Patriotic Coalition, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, Tomislav Karamarko, will stay true to his pre-election promise that there will no longer be room in HDZ for those against whom an indictment will be issued.

To recall, on 28 May 2015, around 7 pm, Željko Peratović was physically attacked on the estate owned by his wife in Luka Pokupska by, to him at the time, unknown persons without any direct or indirect reason, during which he sustained severe physical injuries. Three days after the attack Peratović filed a complaint to the State’s Attorney Office and other competent institutions on the unprofessional conduct of the police, expressing suspicion that someone ordered his intimidation that resulted in attempted murder.

Read more about it: Investigative journalist Željko Peratović attacked; The wall of silence from competent authorities from the moment Peratović was attacked offers us no assurance that the attackers will be brought to justice; Peratović: I hope that the person that contracted my attack will be revealed; I will do everything in my power to find out the truth; Witness in the case of the attempted murder of investigative journalist Željko Peratović threatened: It’s obvious that the cases are connected and that this is all about intimidation

 

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The Municipal State’s Attorney office of Karlovac filed criminal charges against Željko Šafar and Alen Horvat because they threatened a witness in the case of the attempted murder of investigative journalist Željko Peratović. The aforementioned persons are being charged for the intimidation of Franjo Požgaj, witness to the physical attack of Peratović which happened in late May of 2015 in the village Luka Pokupska. The suspects in the attack that happened seven months ago are Vladimir Čunko, his namesake son and Zihnija Grahović who were initially charged with attempt to inflict serious physical injuries. Only after the prosecution accepted Peratović’s charge for attempted murder, a more serious qualification of the felony was realised.

The Municipal State’s Attorney office confirmed the indictment:

Regarding your query, we hereby inform you that upon completion of investigations and evidence gathering, the Municipal State’s Attorney Office of Karlovac has brought forward  the indictment  before the Municipal court of Karlovac against Croatian citizen (1969) on reasonable suspicion that he committed the criminal offense of making threats under Article 139 paragraph 1 and 3 of Criminal Code/11 to the detriment of journalist Željko Peratović and Croatian citizen (1976) because of reasonable suspicion that he committed the criminal offense of making threats under Article 139 paragraph 2 of the aforementioned code, also to the detriment of the aforementioned journalist.

For Fairpress, Željko Peratović commented on the background of the whole case, pointing out that the conversation with Željko Šafar, administrative officer in the City Administration and Head of the Municipal Board Rečica and President of the Firefighting Association of Karlovac in front of witnesses, on 15 July 2015, made him even more confident that the attack that occurred on 28 July 2015 was contracted by a third party, i.e. that it had nothing to do with revenge of the suspects due to his writing (as the deputy of the County State’s Attorney, Mladen Krajčić, stated for Hina on 31 July).

After the publishing of the aforementioned statement of the State’s Attorney’s office for Hina, Vladimir Čunko Jr, Zihnija Grahović and their “persuader” Vladimir Čunko Sr. headed in my direction to finish me off. I presume that Čunko senior organized both attacks, something that Željko Šafar could know more about.

In the Annex of the criminal charge of 24 June 2015, Peratović explained that the conflict with Šafar has been lasting since spring of 2014 when Peratović wrote on his Facebook profile that someone from Rečica is throwing firecrackers into the river Kupa. Šafar then “jockingly” accused Peratović and Požgaj for fish theft. Peratović also said that Šafar was interested in his writing regarding the case of Perković and said that that wasn’t important, that nothing will come of it. He also emphasized that at the beginning of June Željko Šafar came upon Franjo Požgaj in his neighbourhood and jestingly told him to watch out

because there are two bearded men are awaiting him at the store.

The motives of the persons accused for intimidating the witness are still unknown as the investigation is still ongoing and the nature of the relationship between the accused and the suspects for the attack on the journalist remains to be seen.

Peratović says that for now he has no evidence to connect Šafar and Horvat to the attack on him. For Fairpress he reflected on the threats to the key witness:

Even though I am a pessimist regarding the system, the raised indictment is an encouraging step for my case. From the court I expect the listing of phone numbers of Željko Šafar and the attackers. It’s obvious that the cases are connected and that this is all about intimidation.

To recall, on 28 May 2015 around 7 p.m., Željko Peratović was physically attacked on the estate owned by his wife in Luka Pokupska by, to him at the time, unknown persons without any direct or indirect reason, during which he sustained severe physical injuries.

Three days after the attack Peratović filed a complaint to the State’s Attorney Office and other competent institutions on the unprofessional conduct of the police, expressing suspicion that someone ordered his intimidation that resulted in attempted murder.

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On Monday 15 June, Peratović also filed criminal charges at the County State’s Attorney Office in Karlovac for soliciting to murder and attempted murder against the known perpetrators.

Furthermore, The County State’s Attorney office accepted the criminal charge for the attempted murder of Peratović and based on the charge made the decision on conducting an investigation. The investigation showed that regarding the case of the attack on Željko Peratović, it is a matter of criminal charges on the attempt to inflict serious bodily injuries. The perpetrators are suspected of committing a crime against life and limb, i.e. attempted murder.

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