After the respected news website Index.hr published an article criticizing the defence minister on 31 May, Croatian war veteran Stipe Perković-Tabak posted this unambiguous message on the website’s Facebook page under his own name: “These Index journalists should be killed. They criticize anything Croatian. How long will this go on?”
The website’s editor, Neven Barković, filed a complaint about the message but the prosecutor’s office in Split finally announced on 3 August that it will take no action because of “attenuating circumstances” – the fact that Perković-Tabak had drunk too much at the time – and because he is a “decorated Croatian veteran.”
“Being a war hero does not put you beyond the law,” RSF said. “This decision is all the more regrettable and dangerous because it amounts to giving a blank cheque to those who threaten and attack journalists. The authorities should clearly condemn such practices and put an end to the extremely unhealthy climate of impunity prevailing in Croatia, which poses a real threat to media personnel.”
Journalists are often the targets of attacks in Croatia that usually go unpunished. When Index published an article by reporter Vojislav Mazzocco on 2 June about war veterans minister Tome Medved’s efforts to get his son hired, Medved immediately called Mazzocco on his personal number and proposed a fight in which Mazzocco would have to “fear arousing the soldier that I was.”
Croatia is ranked 69th out of 180 countries inRSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.