By Igor Kršinar
The former Slovenian freelance photojournalist Jani Božič was given a suspended sentence for the period of five months prison for taking photos of the then Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek while she was reading a message on her mobile phone. After that he published this snapshot on his webportal Podlupo.net where it could be seen that Ms Bratušek received a congratulation message from the prominent Slovenian businessman Peter Kraljič twenty minutes before the official announcement of her election as PM. After the publishing of this photo Ms Bratušek visited the police and criminally charged Božič for breaching the confidentiality of the media. The case was taken over by state prosecution and after nine months of trial he was found guilty and sentenced to five months of prison conditionally for the period of two years. His attorney Radovan Cerjak announced an appeal on the second level court.
Despite the fact that accused photojournalist and his attorney both warned the first level court that such photos are published in another European media without legal consequences – for example in Great Britain, Italy, Germany and Croatia - the judge didn’t follow the defence. The judge said that she didn’t know above mentioned European cases but she was obliged to judge in line with Slovenian legislation which doesn’t allow such deeds. The Slovenian public, especially journalists, were appalled because of this sentence. The Association of the journalists and commentators called for changes to the Slovenian Penal Code in such directions that journalists wouldn’t be punished for their work any more. This requirement has been supported also by the newly established Initiative for the Freedom of Speech which also warned from an increasing restriction of the freedom of speech and certain convictions of some journalists in Slovenia in recent years.
Jani Božič lives with his family in London where he now works as a photographer. He was forced to leave his homeland due to the pressure he was exposed to because of his work. If his conviction will be confirmed also by the Higher Court this would mean that Slovenian politicians have more personal rights than their colleagues in other European countries, and that Slovenian journalists have less media freedom than their colleagues in the U. K., Italy, Germany and Croatia.