Wed, Dec 09, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Serbian journalist receives threats

VIOLENT FANS Police are investigating threats against Brankica Stankovic, including messages such as “We will spill your brain” posted on her Facebook profile


A prominent Serbian journalist said on Monday she has received death threats after reporting on dozens of unpunished crimes among members of nationalist-backed soccer fan groups.

Brankica Stankovic, of B92 Radio and Television, said she had received dozens of threats since the airing last week of her Insider documentary, which listed a number of unpunished offenses allegedly committed by soccer “hooligan” leaders, including drug trafficking, attacks and even murder.

Violent soccer fans are widely blamed for the burning of the US embassy in Belgrade last year and a series of recent attacks on foreigners, gays and liberals in Serbia.

The staunchly anti-Western groups affiliated with Belgrade clubs Red Star, Partizan and Rad are believed to have close ties to right-wing paramilitary groups that participated in the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Stankovic said the threats against her and her TV station show that the state cannot control the extremists. She added that she has been granted police protection.

“It is not the threats that worry me so much but the fact that they are still powerful enough,” Stankovic said. “It’s a scandal that journalists in Serbia have to work under police protection.”

“All this is happening after the state said it will deal with them,” Stankovic said.

Serbian police have said they are investigating the threats against Stankovic. Those include messages such as “We will spill your brain” or “There will be shooting these days” posted on her profile on the social networking Web site, Facebook.

The documentary included video footage of fans toting guns and attacking a restaurant in Belgrade. It alleged that police have filed more than 100 charges against the main leaders but that they never ended up in jail.

Serbia’s pro-Western authorities have pledged a crackdown on extremist violence following a fatal attack earlier this year against the French soccer fan and the canceling of a gay pride march after extremists’ threats.

The fan groups were also blamed for violent protests against the arrest of war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, the wartime Bosnian Serb leader, last year during which one demonstrator was killed and several people were injured.

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