The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European regional organisation, the European Federation of Journalists, today condemned the killing of journalist Ivo Pukanic and media executive Niko Franjic in a targeted car-bombing attack and warned that a wave of violence against journalists is threatening press freedom and investigative journalism in the country.
"It is shocking that such a violent attack could take place in Europe and we are calling on the authorities to launch a swift investigation to find those responsible," said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. "This latest attack is part of a continuing attack on press freedom and investigative journalism in Croatia."
Pukanic and Franjic, marketing director for Pukanic's NCL Media Group, were killed in the attack on Thursday night. An investigation into the car-bombing is underway but Prime Minister Ivo Sanader told reporters he believes the mafia or other criminals are responsible.
The two men are the first media workers killed in Croatia in the post-war period.
According to reports, someone tried to kill Pukanic six months ago and police provided him protection for a few months after the incident. The protection ended that in August at his request, Interior Minister Tomislav Karamarko told the Associated Press.
The IFJ and the EFJ are joining with their Croatian affiliates, the Croatian Journalists' Association (CJA) and the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists, to call on the government to bring those responsible to justice and to ensure proper protection for threatened journalists in the country.
"Many journalists have been threatened and targeted in the past years but we notice that the situation is worsening," said CJA President Zdenko Duka. "The Association of journalists already protested twice in the past, and we now need strong action against crime."
On September 29, 300 journalists joined a CJA protest in Zagreb against increasing threats to journalists and citizens in Croatia. The EFJ sent a letter of support to the CJA saying it was "shocked that verbal and physical attacks on journalists have become a routine practice in Croatia."
At least five journalists have been attacked this year: Danijela Banko, Filip Brala, Ivo Pukani?, Dušan Miljuš and Martin Franov.
For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide