Media organizations condemned the imprisonment of a Macedonian investigative journalist after an appeals court in the Macedonian capital Skopje upheld the charges against him, albeit with a reduction in sentence.
ASSOCIATED PRESS — SKOPJE, Macedonia
Tomislav Kezarovski had been convicted and sentenced to 4½ years’ imprisonment in October 2013 for revealing the identity of a protected witness in a murder case in an article published in the news magazine Reporter 92 in May 2008. Kezarovski had been under house arrest since then pending appeal.
On Friday, the appeals court lowered the sentence to two years and ordered that Kezarovski serve the remainder of his time — until October — in prison. Police brought him to prison late Friday. The protected witness that Kezarovski reported about had accused two people of murder, who were later acquitted because a court found the witness was not credible. The witness told the court that he had been pressured by police to give testimony. Journalists in Macedonia say their colleague should not have been convicted for reporting about it and suspect political pressure behind Kezarovski’s conviction.
Dunja Mijatovic, a media freedom representative at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), described the ruling and the arrest of Kezarovski as “very disappointing and a disproportionate response.”
The Macedonian journalists’ association condemned the jailing as “a brutal demonstration of force.” It is planning a protest on Tuesday. The association urged President Gjorge Ivanov and Justice Minister Adnan Jashari to release the reporter.
“It is high time for the authorities in the country to ease the pressure on media and respect free and critical voices. Kezarovski should be released immediately”, Mijatovic said in a press release.