Prosecution indicts MP for punching journalist

MP and former trade minister Endrit Shala has been indicted by the Basic Prosecution in Prishtina for allegedly punching a journalist in the face last December.

The Basic Prosecution of Prishtina has filed an indictment for assault against MP Endrit Shala after he was accused of physically attacking a journalist working for the portal Indeksonline in December 2019.

According to reports from the Kosovo Police, the assault took place when the journalist, Ensar Ramadani, was visiting the University Clinical Center, UCCK. Ramadani told police that he was reporting on a news story about a gun attack that had taken place earlier that evening.

Ramadani said he ended up in a dispute with Shala, who was at UCCK to see Luan Maloku, a member of the Social Democratic Initiative party, NISMA, who had been involved in the gun attack that the reporter was covering. 

According to police reports, Maloku was being treated after being shot in a dispute earlier that evening in Prishtina, for which they had arrested one suspect.

Ramadani alleges that Shala demanded he hand over his phone while he was attempting to gather information for the story, and that when the reporter refused, he punched him.

Laureta Ulaj, a spokesperson for the Basic Prosecution Office, confirmed that the indictment had been filed against Shala on Monday.

“The Basic Prosecution Office in Prishtina filed an indictment against the person with the initials E.Sh., for committing the criminal offense of ‘Assault’ under Article 184 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kosovo,” Ulaj told BIRN. “The prosecutor of the case has submitted the case at the Basic Court in Prishtina for further investigation.”

The Association of Kosovo Journalists, AJK, reacted to the announcement on Monday, welcoming the decision to go ahead with Shala’s prosecution yet condemning the “selective approach” of the Kosovo Prosecution in announcing its indictments. 

Shala’s indictment was originally filed on 10 February this year, and the Association of Kosovo Journalists labelled the prosecution’s failure to notify the public of his indictment until now as “concerning.”

“Such a selective approach constitutes a violation of the Law of the State Prosecutor, which must make a public announcement [of the indictment] in a fair and reasonable manner, as it does for all parties,” AJK’s response states. “Deserved punishment should be unavoidable in all cases of attacks or threats against journalists.”

Physical attacks on journalists in Kosovo are common. According to Human Rights Watch, 11 cases of threats and violence against journalists and media outlets were registered in 2019 by the Association of Kosovo Journalists.

This article was amended on 15 June at 16:55, adding the reaction of AJK.

15/06/2020 - 16:37

15 June 2020 - 16:37

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