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Reporter fined for pretending to be police officer

Zuzana Šišovská allegedly deceived a woman to receive information and pictures about an accident that took place in 2012.

Illustrative stock photo(Source: AP/TASR)

A reporter of the Nový Čas tabloid daily, Zuzana Šišovská, was sentenced to 18 months with a conditional postponement for a three year probationary period. She cannot work as journalist for the same period, the Medialne.sk website reported.

The district court in Skalica (Trnava Region) punished her for impersonating a police investigator to gather information for her 2012 story.

The sentence is still not valid as Šišovská has appealed. She claims she did not commit such an act.

Verdict can threat the work of print media

“The verdict is based on the contradictory statement of the allegedly injured person and the inadmissible claims of people who have heard her version of the story,” Šišovská told Medialne.sk. “This is why I consider the sentence a serious threat to the work of print media.”

Read also:A journalist banned from writing because of his story

She also commented that if the verdict becomes valid, every journalist could be punished for doing their job on just the say so of the person in question. They could tell people who were not present their version of the story, which would be confirmed by their closest relative.

“A person who at least morally is responsible for the death of two young people has become the victim of journalists,” Šišovská said, as quoted by Medialne.sk, adding that compared with other, much more serious cases, the sentence is draconic.

What happened?

The court ruled that the reporter wanted to get family pictures and information about a tragic car accident that happened back in June 2012 in Mokrý Háj (Trnava Region) when a drunken driver hit a group of pedestrians and fled. The journalist reportedly visited his wife and told her she was a police officer, part of the investigation team and that it was necessary to obtain an independent expert opinion.

The wife, wanting to cooperate with the police and thinking that Šišovská was a real police officer, let her in. The reporter than asked questions about the accident, took pictures of the injuries on the woman’s face and got a picture of her husband, Medialne.sk wrote.

The story was later published by Nový Čas with the picture of the wife and her statements.

The court first issued a criminal order, fining Šišovská €2,000. After the appeal, the main trial started.

The reporter has in the past been backed by the daily. Its editor-in-chief, Júlia Kováčová, criticised the police for a non-professional and illegal approach, harming the reputation of both the reporter and the daily. She also hinted at potential bullying of a reporter who was, among other things, reporting on the work of the police, Medialne.sk wrote.

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