Supreme Court of Cassation Victory in a Landmark Freedom of Expression Case

by ZS Law

Kruna Savović, Živković Samardžić Technology, Media and Telecommunications Senior Associate and a Head of Media Litigation, led the Živković Samardžić team that has achieved a victory in a landmark freedom of expression case for its clients, broadcaster B92, its former journalist Nikola Radišić and news and current affairs editor and chairperson of the Board of Directors Veran Matić in the Supreme Court of Cassation of Serbia.

B92, Radišić and Matić were defendants in a civil proceedings initiated by a defamation claim brought by Dragoljub Milanović, the former director-general of the state broadcaster Radio Television Serbia (RTS). Radišić reported for B92 Television on Milanović’s first public appearance in 2012, following former RTS director-general’s release from prison, where he served a nine and a half year sentence handed down for failure to evacuate RTS employees from the broadcaster’s building during the NATO bombing campaign, despite being ordered to do so by the Federal Government. Sixteen employees of RTS died when a NATO missile eventually hit the building on the night of 23 April 1999.

Milanović considered a statement made by Radišić, that he „sacrificed his employees’ lives“ to be untrue. The Higher Court in Belgrade initially rejected Milanović’s claim, but that judgement was later overturned at the Appellate Court in Belgrade. The Supreme Court of Cassation of Serbia finally decided to set aside the ruling of the Appellate Court and affirm the ruling of the Higher Court in Belgrade, upon finding that Radišić’s use of term „sacrifice“ was a value judgement not susceptible of proof. Additionally, the Supreme Court of Cassation of Serbia held that Milanović’s earlier conviction that resulted in the nine and a half year prison sentence, served as a sufficient factual basis for the impugned statement, which was thus not excessive.

“We congratulate Kruna and her team on this landmark decision that is, concerning freedom of expression in Serbia, on par with the European Court of Human Rights judgement in the Case of Jerusalem v. Austria,” said Nebojša Samardžić, Živković Samardžić Senior Partner.

You can find the reports on the case in the Serbian media here, here, and here.

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