Slovak Journalist Detained and Beaten by Police

| Help Protest This Attack | Protest Index | CPJ Home |

.

.

.

 

August 19, 1998

 

HisExcellency
Vladimir Meciar
Prime Minister of Slovak Republic
Bratislava, Slovakia

 

Your Excellency,

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply concerned about the August 7 beating and detention by Bratislava police of Vladimir Bacisin, a widely respected investigative reporter at the private business daily Narodna Obroda.

On the evening of August 7, two police officers stopped Bacisin after he had crossed a downtown Bratislava street on a red light. The reporter had just finished meeting with a source from the National Bank of Slovakia in the building housing Slovak Radio. The officers demanded he show his identification card and ordered him to pay a fine on the spot for the violation. Bacisin told the officers he did not have sufficient cash to pay the fine at that moment, but suggested the police keep his ID card as collateral because he was in a hurry to get to another meeting.

Suddenly, one of the officers grabbed the reporter, twisting his arms behind his back, while the other officer punched him in the face, knocking his eyeglasses to the ground. Bacisin, who has very poor eyesight, tried to pick up his glasses, but the officers pushed him to the ground, striking him several times against the pavement. Two more police officers arrived and the beating continued, as two of them held Bacisin while the others hit him. After the beating, Bacisin was taken to a police station, where he was handcuffed to a bench for several hours before he was locked up in a holding cell. The police denied him access to his lawyer and refused to return his eyeglasses. The reporter refused to answer any questions in the absence of his lawyer and without his glasses. He was freed the next day, but still faces charges of verbally and physically attacking a public servant under Articles 155 and 156 of the Slovak penal code.

Bacisin and his colleagues believe he was targeted in retaliation for his investigative reports revealing illegal practices by two private firms with close links to the ruling coalition, VUB Investment Holding and Slovenska Poistovna. Bacisin said he pled guilty to the minor offense, but denied refusing to pay the fine and resisting arrest. Bacisin believes he was followed and spied on by an Interior Ministry employee he spotted and recognized while he was in the Slovak Radio building just before the incident. The reporter has also been pressured into leaving his paper, Narodna Obroda, by the editor, Miroslav Tuleja, a well-known government supporter. Colleagues describe Bacisin as accurate, cautious, and professional, adding that his small size and gentle disposition render his instigating any violent attack highly improbable.

As an nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending the rights of our colleagues around the world, CPJ strongly protests this act of police brutality against Vladimir Bacisin in apparent retribution for his work as a journalist. The attempt to intimidate and silence Bacisin for his investigative reporting less than two months before parliamentary elections in Slovakia violates all of your government's international commitments to respect press freedom and ensure the universally recognized rights of journalists to freely and safely practice their profession. We urge you to thoroughly investigate this incident and punish those found responsible.

 

Sincerely,

Ann K. Cooper

Executive Director



Help Protest This Attack

Add your voice to CPJ's
Send a fax to:

His Excellency
Vladimir Meciar
Prime Minister of Slovak Republic
Bratislava, Slovakia

Fax: 011-4217-397-595