On the Feral Trial

Medienhilfe Ex-Jugoslawien (Medienhilfe@gsoa.links.ch)
25 Sep 1996 18:25:00 +0100

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His Excellency Franjo Tudjman
President of the Republic of Croatia
Zagreb, Croatia

Zürich, 25. 9. 1996.

Your Excellency,

We are addressing You in occasion of the resuming of the trial of
Feral Tribune editor-in-chief Mr. Viktor Ivancic and journalist Mr.
Marinko Culic, which is to start today. According to our insight into the
media situation in the Republic of Croatia, and particularly into this
process, we would like to point out the following:
1. Regarding the number and the intensity of crackdowns on
independent media which happened during this year, Croatia is among
the leading countries within Europe for suppression of press freedom. As
most of those crackdowns were performed by the authorities, there is a
considerable responsibility of state institutions and You as the President
for being so.
2. Those crackdowns have been particularly enforced since the
Croatian Parliament had passed the amendments on the Penal Code in
March this year. The trial of Mr. Viktor Ivancic and Mr. Marinko Culic is
the first one based on these amendments.
3. The independent satirical weekly Feral Tribune has for a longer
time been a target of authority's attacks. With this trial, the attacks on this
paper, as well as on independent media in general, reached a culmination.
Because of that, we would like to express our deep concern as the use of
criminal legislation to proceed against these journalists is the most direct
attack on press freedom and contravenes internationally recognized

An independent media is a prerequisite for a democratic society.
The principle of a free press is also enshrined in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, to which the Republic of Croatia is party.
Bearing in mind this, we ask You:
- to withdraw Your written consent for the prosecution of Mr.
Ivancic and Mr. Culic
- to immediately stop this trial
- to initiate legal procedure for changing of passed amendments
on the Penal Code
- to put Your authority for implementing in the Republic of
Croatia standards of press freedom which are defined in international
documents the Republic of Croatia ratified.

We would like to believe that You will do everything within Your
constitutionally defined authorities to ensure freedom of press in the
Republic of Croatia. That is the best, and the only, way to develop the
Republic of Croatia into a democratic country and bring it closer to
European integration. We really do hope that You share our opinion.

On behalf of Medienhilfe Ex-Jugoslawien, the best regards

Roland Brunner