We must remind you that Dražen Ciglenečki had to attend a trial for the same case three times, after two trial rulings of the Municipal Court in Rijeka were dismissed by the Rijeka County Court, with identical sanctions due to the author's column published in "Novi list" on November 27, 2014, entitled "Turudić createds more damage than Šešelj." The verdict of Vera Marincel, the judge of the Municipal Court in Rijeka, by which Ciglenečki was sentenced to a fine at the amount of 30 daily wages and, if would become final, he would be obliged to pay the costs of the criminal proceedings and cover the costs and expenses of Turudić and his lawyer, is not only problematic from a legal point of view, having literally copied the verditcs which were dismissed by higher court instances, but it is deeply problematic for its very content.
For Judge Marincel, the proof is that "Ciglenečki committed the criminal offense for which he was charged by the private prosecutor" Turudić, that "the defendant, in his column, exceeds the limits of permissible judgments of value and criticism", so the question arises as to who determines where is the boundary between permissible judgments of value and criticism and those impermissible? We would like to note that Judge Ivan Turudić has not asked the CJA's Council of Honor to assess whether Dražen Ciglenečki's controversial text violated the Code of Honor of Croatian Journalists or violated professional criteria. If, on the other hand, Judge Marincel and Judge Turudić are the ones who determine the limits of free opinion, then verbal tort has been reinstated to court practice, so anyone's writing can be incriminated in a similar way, as well as judgments of value.
We must mention that in this case, both Judge Marincel and Judge Turudić have problems with what we call reading comprehension, in formal education. In the incriminated column, Dražen Ciglenečki does not, in any way, compare the character and work of Ivan Turudić with Vojislav Šešelj, let alone their roles in the Homeland War! If it is already not common practice in the Croatian judiciary system that fellow judges always give right to fellow judges when suing journalists, due to such verdicts, any mention of Vojislav Šešelj in the same sentence with anyone else could be punishable, moreover, any mention of Vojislav Šešelj in the same text with any other name, and finally every mention of Vojislav Šešelj and any person by name and surname in different texts could also be punishable!
Therefore, we consider this verdict shameful and unsustainable, and once again appeal to the Ministry of Justice, the Judicial Academy and the Ministry of Culture and MEDIA to initiate not only the necessary changes in the law to alter this unsustainable practice, but also to educate judges and provide for specialized judges in cases concerning freedom of speech and media. If the persecution of journalists with SLAPP lawsuits continues, they will be the ones who will do more damage to Croatia than the washed out war criminal Šešelj, especially at the international level.
For the CJA Executive Board,
Hrvoje Zovko, President of the Croatian Journalists' Association
Goran Gazdek, Vice President of the Croatian Journalists' Association