Jovo Martinovic

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Jovo Martinovic is a freelance investigative journalist in Montenegro, known for his reporting on organized crime in Europe and war criminals in the Balkans. His reporting has appeared in international news outlets, including The Economist, Time, Newsday and the Financial Times. Among his noteworthy projects was helping produce a Vice News documentary on a gang of jewel thieves known as the Pink Panthers.[1] Since October 22, 2015 he has been in prison in Montenegro and has been charged with involvement in a drug trafficking ring. Rights groups such as the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights Watch have criticized Montenegro’s government for failing to provide evidence justifying the charges or pre-trial detention for over one year.[2]

Work as a Journalist[edit]

Prior to his imprisonment, Martinovic worked for 15 years on stories about crime and war criminals, and developed sources within criminal organizations. Martinovic worked on an American Radioworks documentary, Massacre at Cuska, which focused on a 1999 attack on an ethnic Albanian village in Kosovo by a Serbian death squad that left 41 unarmed civilians dead. Furthermore, he worked for more than 10 years with Matt McAllester, a Pulitzer-winning reporter for Newsday, investigating war criminals and organized crime groups in the Balkans. In 2014, he worked with VICE on a documentary series called "Pink Panthers," about a renowned ring of Balkan thieves who are suspected of stealing hundreds of millions in gold and jewels from some of the world’s most-expensive jewelers. When he was detained, Martinovic was producing a documentary film for CAPA Presse, a French production company.

Arrest and Imprisonment[edit]

Martinovic has been accused of being part of a criminal organization and participating in a drug trafficking ring; a crime for which he was arrested on October 22, 2015.[3] He faces up to 10 years in jail. Martinovic was arrested along with 17 other suspects. On April 8, 2016 after almost six months in detention, Montenegro’s Special Prosecutor's Office filed charges against Martinovic and 13 others. As of October 2016, no trial date had been set. During that operation that led to the arrests, the police seized 3.5 kilograms of cocaine, 1.5 kilos of heroin and 21 kilograms of marijuana.

Among those arrested with Martinovic is a suspected former Pink Panther named Dusko Martinovic (no relation), who Jovo Martinovic came into contact with during the production of the Vice documentary on the Pink Panthers and a 2013 documentary about the gang called "Smash and Grab".[4] Also arrested with Jovo Martinovic was Namik Selmanovic, who is believed to be an extra in the Vice series. He also worked with Jovo Martinovic as a fixer on a film aired by the French station Canal Plus. When he was arrested, Martinovic was working for CAPA Presse in a documentary about illegal smuggling of weapons from the Balkans into the Western Europe, "La Route de la Kalashnikov."[5]

Jovo Martinovic is suspect of "mediating in setting up of a criminal group for drug smuggling," according to the prosecution’s request for an investigation.[6] Martinovic’s lawyers have complained about the length of his pre-trial detention, and their requests for bail have been denied. In addition, they say they haven’t received the documents from prosecutors that would allow them to prepare Martinovic’s defence. For the moment, the only defense came from Martinovic, arguing that his contact with the suspects was strictly linked to his journalistic work.[7] The Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders wrote a letter on September 19, 2016 to Montenegran Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic in order to protest Martinovic’s pretrial detention.[8]

Criticism of Detention[edit]

In a letter written from Milo Djukanovic, Montenegro’s Prime Minister, to Dunja Mijatovic, the media freedom representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe; Montenegro’s government said Martinovic arrest was unrelated to his journalistic work.[9] Among the international journalists who have publicly supported Martinovic are. Bruce Clark of The Economist, Till Krause of Suddeutsche Zeitung, Michael Montgomery of the Center for Investigative Reporting and Philip Sherwell of the Daily Telegraph. On September 2, the International Federation of Journalists and its affiliate in Montenegro, the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro, also called for Martinovic’s release.[10]

In a broadcast interview in Germany, Milka Tadic-Mijovic, a veteran media activist, talked argued that people in Montenegro’s government were afraid of Jovo Martinovic.[11] She explained that this was due to Martinovic’s knowledge of criminal groups but also with state structures which are associated to them. Recently, Vijesti, and independent daily, alleged that a special prosecutor had applied pressure on other suspects to implicate Martinovic.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ognianova, Nina. "CPJ joins call for Montenegro to free imprisoned journalist Jovo Martinović". Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  2. ^ "Joint Letter to Prime Minister of Montenegro on prolonged pre-trial detention of journalist Jovo Martinović". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  3. ^ Tomovic, Dusica. "Fair Trial Sought for Montenegrin Investigative Reporter". European Centre for Press Media & Freedom. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  4. ^ Foundas, Scott. "Film Review: 'Smash and Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers'". Variety. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  5. ^ "Les acteurs de la filière". Canal Plus France.
  6. ^ Tomovic, Dusica. "Montenegro Probes Investigative Reporter for Drug Trafficking". Balkan Insight.
  7. ^ Tomovic, Dusica. "Montenegro Probes Investigative Reporter for Drug Trafficking". Balkan Insight.
  8. ^ Ognianova, Nina. "CPJ joins call for Montenegro to free imprisoned journalist Jovo Martinović". Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  9. ^ Tomovic, Dusica. "Montenegro Probes Investigative Reporter for Drug Trafficking". Balkan Insight.
  10. ^ "Indictment of freelance Montenegrin journalist Jovo Martinović" (PDF).
  11. ^ Janjevic, Darko. "Detention of reporter sounds alarm in Montenegro". DW. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  12. ^ "HRW: Martinović se pod sumnjivim okolnostima nalazi u pritvoru". Vijesti.