Niko Franjic

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Attacks on the Press   |   Croatia

Attacks on the Press 2009: Croatia

Top Developments
• Government makes progress on reforms, but press freedom lags.
• Ruling HDZ gains influence with some media outlets.

Key Statistic
8: People indicted in a car bombing that killed two media executives.

Croatia’s efforts to join the European Union by 2011 did not yield major improvements in press freedom. While the EU said the government had made “substantial progress” on several issues—including the resolution of border disputes, the institution of refugee property rights, and improved cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia—some journalists feared the country was sliding back toward the lawless 1990s, when the ruling nationalist HDZ party suppressed independent news reporting. Police remained inconsistent in investigating attacks against journalists, several of whom faced threats after reporting on government corruption.

February 16, 2010 12:42 AM ET


Statements   |   Croatia, Serbia

Eight charged in Croatia murders

We issued the following statement after Croatian and Serbian prosecutors announced that they have charged eight men in an October 2008 car bombing that killed Ivo Pukanic, owner and editorial director of the Zagreb-based political weekly Nacional, and Niko Franjic, the paper’s marketing director...

October 27, 2009 1:19 PM ET


Alerts   |   Croatia

Authorities charge five in car-bombing deaths

New York, November 3, 2008--Croatian police have charged five men in the October 23 murder of two employees of the Zagreb-based political weekly Nacional, according to international news reports.

November 3, 2008 5:37 PM ET



Press freedom in the news 10/24/08

The deaths of two Croatian journalists, killed when a bomb exploded beneath their car Thursday in Zagreb, is getting extensive coverage across the region today. 

October 24, 2008 12:36 PM ET


Alerts   |   Croatia

Two journalists killed in car bomb

New York, October 23, 2008--The Committee to Protect Journalists mourns the deaths of Ivo Pukanic, owner and editorial director, and Niko Franjic, marketing director, of the Zagreb-based political weekly Nacional.

October 23, 2008 9:47 PM ET


Statements   |   Croatia

In Croatia, CPJ shocked by bombing

After learning today that Ivo Pukanic, owner and editorial director, and Niko Franjic, marketing director, of the Zagreb-based political weekly Nacional, were killed when a bomb exploded under Pukanic's car parked outside the paper's building, we issued the following statement...

October 23, 2008 4:26 PM ET



Ivo Pukanic

Pukanic, owner and editorial director of the Zagreb-based political weekly Nacional, and Niko Franjic, the marketing director, were killed when a bomb placed under the journalist's car exploded outside the paper's offices, according to press reports and CPJ sources. Local press reports said Pukanic and Franjic were close to the car when the blast took place. Nacional often exposed corruption, organized crime, and human rights abuses, local sources told CPJ.

Croatian authorities moved swiftly to pursue the killers. On October 24, The Associated Press quoted Prime Minister Ivo Sanader as saying that authorities "will fight organized crime or terrorism--whatever is behind this murder--to its very end." On November 1, Croatian police announced that they had charged five suspects in connection with the murder.

In addition, police spokesman Krunoslav Borovec said investigators were working with Bosnian authorities to track down the suspect they believe planted the bomb. Local press reports identified the suspect as Zeljko Milovanovic, a Bosnian Serb and former member of a Serbian paramilitary group called the Red Berets. He held both Croatian and Bosnian passports, according to the independent Serbian broadcaster B92. According to Reuters, Bosnian police raided Milovanovic's house in the northern Bosnian town of Doboj on October 31, but he was not at home.

Pukanic had reported an earlier attack to police. In April, he told police, an unidentified assailant approached him near his apartment building, brandished a handgun and fired, narrowly missing him, the Croatian news Web site Javno reported. The assailant was not apprehended.

In 2009, Sreten Jocic, a member of an organized crime group and the suspected mastermind, was charged with involvement in Pukanic's murder. The next year, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for an unrelated murder. 

In November 2010, the Municipal Court in Zagreb convicted five conspirators in the bombing and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from 15 to 33 years. Milovanovic was convicted in absentia and sentenced to a 40-year term. He was arrested in Serbia in 2009 and tried in Belgrade on similar charges. On April 2, 2014, the Belgrade Special Court convicted Milovanovic of planting the bomb and sentenced him to 40 years in jail. His accomplice in the case, Milenko Kuzmanovic, was handed a five-year prison term on charges of helping Milovanovic with a forged passport, local and international press reported. According to Reuters, the court declared that prosecutors did not have enough evidence to prove that Jocic ordered the murder and dropped his charges. He continues to serve a jail term in an unrelated case.

Authorities said organized crime figures had targeted Pukanic to prevent his paper from publishing a series of articles exposing tobacco smuggling in the Balkans.

October 23, 2008 12:00 AM ET


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