The BIRN investigative network said on Wednesday that Belgrade Mayor Aleksandar Sapic filed two SLAPP suits over its reports on his villa in Trieste and alleged wrongdoing with illegally constructed buildings in a suburb of the Serbian capital.
According to BIRN, Sapic is demanding damages of six million Dinars (1 Euro – 117 Dinars) in each of the law suits. It said that the suits are intended to intimidate and discourage journalists and stop them from reporting on public figures and issues of public interest.
The law suit against BIRN editor in chief Milorad Ivanovic and four journalists was filed because they “published lies causing immeasurable harm to the plaintiff in terms of emotional pain for damaging his reputation, honor and dignity and casting doubts on his overall moral values”.
Ivanovic said that these are SLAPP suits and added that BIRN will continue investigating issues of public interest and controlling institutions, politicians and public officials and publishing stories that the public has the right to know about in order to reach decisions.
BIRN reported that Sapic owned a villa worth more than 800,000 Euro in the northern Italian port city of Trieste which he had not reported to the Anti-Corruption Agency and alleged wrongdoing in the legalization of buildings constructed without permits in the Bezanijska Kosa suburb while he was New Belgrade municipality chief.