nedelja, 04. januar 2015

Photographer Jani Božič prosecuted by the former Slovenian PM Alenka Bratušek

By Igor Kršinar
Waiting for results of voting of the new PM designate Alenka Bratušek was sitting in the Slovenian Parliament when she got the following message on her mobile phone: “Dear Ms. Bratušek, heartfelt congratulations and a lot of success for your challenging role. Receive my greetings from Moscow. Peter Kraljič.” Right this moment the freelance photographer Jani Božič, who, among other colleagues, covered the session of the Slovenian National Assembly from a balcony, took a photo of the future Prime Minister of Slovenia. In a detailed review of this snapshot he figured out that the prominent Slovenian businessman sent a congratulation message 20 minutes before the official announcement of the results. Jani Božič decided to publish this snapshot on his web portal with the above mentioned footnote. That day, on 27 February 2013, Alenka Bratušek was elected for the new Slovenian Prime Minister in a confidential vote in which her predecessor Janez Janša was resolved from this post.
For the photographer dire straits started. After he had published a photo of Bratušek’s message on his web portal he lost the accreditation card for the National Assembly. Its office led by Secretary General Mojca Prelesnik also informed the newly elected Prime Minister about the violation of her personal rights by the photographer Jani Božič. Alenka Bratušek visited a police station and criminally charged him for breaching the confidentiality of media. The case was taken over by the state prosecution and after several months an indictment against Božič was filed. According to the Slovenian Penal Code the photographer could be punished by fine or by imprisonment up to one year. The trial started in April 2014 at the Ljubljana District Court. Three hearings have been held at which three different prosecutors led an indictment against the photographer. The first two hearings passed without the accused and the “victim”. The Prime Minister Bratušek was absent due to her political obligations while Jani Božič moved out from Slovenia. Since he experienced many threats because of his work he couldn’t do his job in Slovenia, so he decided to move with his family to London where he has been continuing his work as a photographer.
In December, just two days before Christmas, both of them attended the third hearing at the court. Jani Božič (his surname in Slovenian language means Christmas) with his family visited the homeland and defended himself from the indictment. Alenka Bratušek, now the former PM since the new government was taken over by Miro Cerar, the winner of snap elections, still insisted on criminal prosecution of Jani Božič. She stated that he breached her privacy and that she hadn’t allowed anybody to read her messages. On the contrary, Božič explained to the court that he just did his work as well as his colleagues anywhere in Europe. He added that such snapshots as he had taken are published in tones everywhere in the United Kingdom, in Germany, in Italy as well as in Slovenia. As the evidence his attorney Radovan Cerjak filed articles from British, Italian, German and Croatian media where similar photos of politicians’ messages were published.
In the UK, the daily newspaper The Telegraph published in April 2009 a snapshot of confidential documents revealed by the Communities Secretary Hazel Blears as she walked along Downing Street. In Italy, the daily newspaper La Repubblica published in November 2011 many snapshots of a letter written by then PM Silvio Berlusconi to two of his female MPs inviting them for coffee during the session of the Parliament. The same newspaper also published many photos of a letter written by then MP Enrico Letta (the later Italian PM) offering himself to become a minister in then PM Designate Mario Monti’s government. Different Croatian web portals published in November 2013 a pornographic message on the mobile phone written by Romana Mihaljević, the head of one of the departments of the council of the Osijek-Baranja Region, during the session of the regional Assembly. Her porn message was published also in Serbian, Bosnian as well as in Slovenian web media. The German daily tabloid Bild published in September 2014 a snapshot of the mobile phone of MP Christoph Bergner watching a Playboy-Bunny during the session of the Bundestag. These cases confirm that media freedom in other EU countries is wider than in Slovenia despite common European jurisdiction. In case that the photographer Jani Božič is found guilty of the above mentioned accusations at all level of the Slovenian rule of law he could appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. This would be a real challenge for all European media.
Bild: Playboy Gucker im Bundestag

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