Protecting reputation against smear campaign: “Plaintiff is not a Mafioso!” rules the Court

by ZS Law

Živković Samardžić, one of the Serbia’s leading full-service independent law firms and market leaders in media law and defamation, has secured a victory at the Higher Court in Belgrade for Drew Sullivan, the Editor and co-founder of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), an investigative reporting platform formed by 40 non-profit investigative centres, scores of journalists and several major regional news organizations around the globe.

In an article from March 2016, Belgrade based Serbian daily “Informer”, has described Drew Sullivan, an American residing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a racketeer and a conspirator attacking Aleksandar Vučić, Serbian Prime Minister at the time, and targeting his family members in order force Prime Minister to resign.

Sullivan, as a plaintiff, brought the case to the Higher Court in Belgrade and the court recently found that “the plaintiff is not a Mafioso, nor is he a media-tycoon-racketeer, nor a conspirator, and his goal is not to attack the Prime Minister and participate in destroying the country, he is not choosing the Prime Minister’s family members as targets in order force him to resign,” awarded damages to be paid and ordered “Informer’s” editor to publish the ruling without any comment.

Sullivan welcomed the court’s decision and said it represents “a blow against fake news in Serbia.”

“Serbian justice was swift and decisive,” he said. “That gives us hope for the country’s future.”

It is yet to be seen whether the defendants, Informer’s publisher and its editor in chief, would submit an appeal to the Appellate Court.

Team of Živković Samardžić lawyers representing OCCRP’s editor and co-founder, was led by senior associates Kruna Savović and Miloš Stojković.

Kruna Savović, Technology, Media and Telecommunications Senior Associate and a Head of Media Litigation, joined Živković Samardžić in 2008, after graduating at the University of Belgrade Faculty of Law earlier in the same year. She specialises in Media Law and Intellectual Property and is a trusted advisor to a number of national broadcast, print and on-line media and their associations and an experienced media and intellectual property litigator. Kruna is a leading national freedom of expression expert and lectures and writes extensively on issues related to the harmonisation of Serbian legal framework governing the media sector with the European media freedom standards, the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice.

Miloš Stojković graduated at the University of Belgrade Faculty of Law in 2007 and is with Živković Samardžić since 2012, following a four-year stint with the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Society, where he was a Legal Advisor and a Head of Regulatory Department in the Sector for Electronic Communications. Miloš was recently awarded OSCE Mission to Serbia 2017 Person of the Year Award for his dedication to media freedom and development of media legislation.

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