Vrban announces that a fee of 20,000 euros will be claimed for damages of each text, which means that the total of five court's claims will amount to 100 000 euros.
This act of judicial aggression aims to destroy any critical journalism in the public interest and the financial destruction of media, in this case, the Telegram.hr portal.
In addition that there is a custom of judges often suing the media with large damage, also testifies the example of a recent lawsuit by Ivan Markovic, a County Court judge in Zadar, who filed a lawsuit against the portal Index.hr, asking for 13,000 euros due to a series of texts entitled "Gang rape near Zadar". In 2019, portal Index.hr wrote about a horrible case when seven men aged 17 to 19-year-old, gang raped a 15-year-old girl. The case shocked Croatia as well as the fact that judge Markovic released them to defend themselves from freedom. We emphasize that the practice of judges suing journalists and seeking such high damage claims is dangerous for democracy.
In Croatia, journalists can also be convicted for satire, as recently testifies a final verdict against the satirical portal News Bar, in which self-proclaimed journalist Velimir Bujanec, a favorite of the extreme right and a man who was arrested for drug possession and use of sex workers' services (while payed for their services in drugs), won the lawsuit case. The court ruled that News Bar damaged Bujanac's reputation and honor with a satirical article “Ambulance reviving Bujanec after the news of the seizure of cocaine worth 44 million euros". That is outrageous.
CJA also warns of the case of Goran Gazdek, vice president of CJA and chief editor of the Virovitica.net portal. Gazdek has just lost a verdict according to which he must pay a 1000 euros plus court costs to the opposition SDP's (Social Democratic Party) MP Romana Nikolic, due to publication of a text on how the lady once threatened with death and was sentenced to three months probation. In the lawsuit, Nikolic stated that she was rehabilitated for the criminal offense recalled by the journalist in the article, and thus, she should be considered unconvicted. CJA believes that the public interest must be in the first place, and that the public has a right to know all about the past crimes of figures running for high political and public duties.
The Croatian Journalists' Association was unpleasantly surprised by the decision of the County Court in Zagreb, which abolished the first verdict of the journalist and editor of non-profit portal Tris Davorka Blažević, who was accused for difamation of the Croatian Supreme Court judge Senka Klarić Baranović. In a private lawsuit against Blažević, Baranović sought 20,000 euros in damages. With this decision of the County Court, the entire case was returned to the beginning. The first hearing is in September 2021. First verdict for a colleague Blažević was issued by the Municipal Court in Šibenik in December 2020.