Zivkovic & Samardzic has achieved victory in a freedom of expression case for broadcaster B92, its former journalist Nikola Radisic, and its news and current affairs editor and chairperson of the Board of Directors Veran Matic, in the Supreme Court of Cassation of Serbia.
B92, Radisic, and Matic were defendants in civil proceedings involving a defamation claim brought by Dragoljub Milanovic, the former director-general of state broadcaster Radio Television Serbia (RTS). Radisic reported for B92 Television on Milanovic’s first public appearance in 2012, following the former RTS director-general’s release from prison, where he served a nine and a half year sentence handed down for failure to evacuate RTS employees from the broadcaster’s building during a NATO bombing campaign, despite being ordered to do so by the Federal Government. Sixteen employees of RTS died when a NATO missile hit the building on the night of April 23, 1999.
Milanovic claimed that a statement by Radisic on that broadcast in which he alleged that the former Director General had "sacrificed his employees’ lives“ was untrue. The Higher Court in Belgrade initially rejected Milanovic’s claim, but that judgment was later overturned at the Appellate Court in Belgrade. The Supreme Court of Cassation of Serbia set aside the ruling of the Appellate Court and affirmed the ruling of the Higher Court in Belgrade, finding that Radisic’s use of the term "sacrifice“ was a value judgment not susceptible of proof. Additionally, the Supreme Court of Cassation of Serbia held that Milanovic’s earlier conviction that resulted in the nine and a half year prison sentence served as a sufficient factual basis for the impugned statement, which was thus not excessive.
Zivkovic & Samardzic’s team was led by Media and Telecommunications Senior Associate and Head of Media Litigation Kruna Savovic.