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Journalist accused of libel receives support from media watchdogs

JOURNALIST Dušan Karolyi, a former reporter for the Trend economic weekly who could face a five-year prison sentence for libel, received support from OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović, media freedom watchdog International Press Institute (IPI) as well as several public Slovak figures. General Prosecutor Jaromír Čižnár filed a motion to scrutinise the legality of his prosecution.

JOURNALIST Dušan Karolyi, a former reporter for the Trend economic weekly who could face a five-year prison sentence for libel, received support from OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović, media freedom watchdog International Press Institute (IPI) as well as several public Slovak figures. General Prosecutor Jaromír Čižnár filed a motion to scrutinise the legality of his prosecution.

According to Mijatović the criminal libel charges filed against Karolyi are worrying and pose a threat to free media.

“Applying criminal charges for libel stifles public debate and can be used to protect public officials from criticism,” Mijatović said in press release on September 8. “In effect, it poses a threat to free media.”

In August 2013, Karolyi covered the case of a former employee of the Office for Fighting Organised Crime (ÚBOK), Jaroslav Dujava, who was suspected of abusing the powers of a public official. Karolyi pointed to delays by the Prešov District Court, which had been dealing with the Dujava case since August 2005. Due to its inactivity, Prešov District Court Judge Marián Mačura cancelled the prosecution against Dujava and another three former police officers because the case is statute-barred.

Dujava filed a criminal complaint against an unknown offender for libel, even though the journalist had not used his full name, but an abbreviation: “Jaroslav D.”. The former police officer suffered social and career harm because of the story, according to the investigator of the Prešov police, Anton Marcinčin, wrote Medialne.sk, a media news site.

After Karolyi’s prosecution received wide attention, the General Prosecutor’s office began dealing with the case.

“General Prosecutor Jaromír Čižnár submitted a motion to the Deputy General Prosecutor For Criminal Department Peter Šufliarsky to scrutinise the legality of the criminal prosecution of journalist Dušan K,” said General Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Andrea Predajňová, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

The IPI called the approach of law enforcement bodies “absurd”, since the police and the prosecutor’s office are prosecuting a journalist who merely pointed out the court’s failings, Pavol Múdry of IPI wrote in the institute’s statement. The IPI sees such cases as an attempt to scare journalists and the media away from reporting about such failures and expressed full support for Karolyi.

Moreover, several public figures including writer Michal Hvorecký, Zuzana Wienk and Fero Paulíny of the watchdog group Fair Play Alliance, as well as journalists Zuzana Petková and Juraj Kušnierik, signed a petition in support of Karolyi, Medialne.sk reported.

They intentionally wrote that they approve and agree with Karolyi’s actions, since publicly supporting a criminal act is also a criminal act in Slovakia, and thus, they could be prosecuted if the journalist is punished for his story.

(Source: Medialne.sk, SITA, OSCE webpage)

Compiled by Roman Cuprik from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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