News

Scandalous verdict against journalist Davorka Blažević

04.11.2021.

The court in Šibenik accepted the lawsuit of the judge of the Supreme Court Senka Klarić Baranović by which the journalist Davorka Blažević has to pay the plaintiff 10.000 € plus the costs of the procedure in the name of the famous provision "violation of honor and reputation". Consequently, with this additional shameful court ruling, the blow to the journalistic profession continues and Croatia becomes the number one problem in the European Union, when it comes to journalistic and media freedoms.

The president of the Croatian Journalists' Association, Hrvoje Zovko, stated that this was one of the most scandalous verdicts against journalists and as such presented that the terror of lawsuits continues, and that this should be stopped once and for all.

- This verdict against my colleague Blažević, with which the CJA stands firmly, once again shows the manipulation of the law, whereby "mental pain" has become a lucrative business to the detriment of those who work in the public interest. Incredible is the fact that a great journalist is sued and won by a Supreme Court judge. This is inadmissible, but also possible only in Croatia, which is recognized in Europe as the most problematic country when it comes to SLAPP lawsuits, said Zovko, adding that the CJA is once again repeating its request, which will never give up, and that is decriminalization of all acts against honor and reputation, because such verdicts also mean the continuation of intimidation and ultimately the financial destruction of journalists.

In a statement for our portal, Davorka Blažević said that it was incomprehensible that the new verdict, without any new evidence that would be presented in court, would be completely opposite to the previous one in which she was acquitted.

- "And now I am asked to pay 75 thousand HRK for "mental pain", adding the costs of the procedure, a total of over one hundred thousand HRK! What are our courts doing? How are such large deviations possible? Basically, it is about the classic disciplining of critical journalism, about silencing journalists with high fines, about a clear message to the media that judges should not be talked about critically, because they are untouchable. It is absurd that in our country you can write anything you want about the president, prime minister, ministers, but not about judges, although the judiciary is the weakest point of the Croatian state according to all relevant criteria of international institutions. This is a classic proof of power, a procedure in which the plaintiff and the defendant were not equal from the first day, so the plaintiff behaved in this way throughout the proceedings, directly suggesting to her colleagues how to conduct the dispute. That says a lot about our judiciary, but even more about the freedom of the media, which clearly defines the space of freedom in which they can move. This is proof that, contrary to the Prime Minister's messages that there are no untouchables, there really are! If tomorrow we write in fear of lawsuits, what will journalism be like? Can we come to terms with this and agree to such blackmail? In short, I am appalled by the verdict, and what kind of "mental pain" Judge Klarić Baranović suffers, who in the meantime retired, that from a journalist, also retired, who dared to publicly say her opinion about a public figure (who, nota bene, judged in the most famous domestic affairs), asking for so much money? The verdict is shameless, unjust, censorious and in the wake of the most rigid undemocratic systems. Unsustainable!" - colleague Blažević is determined in her righteous anger.

The plaintiff requested an even larger amount of a total of HRK 150,000, but the court rejected part of the claim in favour of 75,000.00 HRK, finding the original amount as unfounded. The reasoning of the verdict, written on as many as twenty cards in dry legal language, states the course of the trial in the past few years and the court's view of the case. Earlier, the Zagreb County Court revoked the first-instance decision and returned the case to the Šibenik court for retrial.

As stated in the verdict in the repeated proceedings, the plaintiff persisted in the lawsuit and the claim, pointing out that the final verdict of the Municipal Court in Šibenik found the defendant guilty and convicted of a criminal offense against honor and reputation, insult to the detriment of the plaintiff. The verdict found that the defendant was in the journalistic portal "TRIS" on October 3, 2015 in an article entitled "Portrait of the Week / Senka Klarić Baranović, Judge of the Supreme Court: S(j)enka(shadow) bites Senka's tail", commenting on the decision of the Supreme Court Croatia in the "Fimi Media" case, made a number of insulting allegations against the plaintiff. As it is further pointed out in the judgment of the defendant, this is not the first article by which she insulted the plaintiff, with civil proceedings against "Slobodna Dalmacija" d.d. Split for damages in whose daily newspaper that the plaintiff made the same or similar defamatory and insulting allegations.

Defendant Davorka Blažević pointed out that all information published in this article represents her value judgments published in the public interest and in good faith and based on information she drew from other articles published in other media that she had no reason to believe to be true. She emphasized that she continued to oppose the lawsuit and the plaintiff's claim, pointing out that the publisher was responsible for the damage caused by the information published in the media in accordance with the Media Act.

Careful reading of the reasoning of this verdict leads to the conclusion that our judges are large mimosas, whose feelings can be cured only by a certain amount of money, so it is stated, among other things: - So, the purpose is to repair non-pecuniary damage in an effort to recover, as it is possible, with a fair and approximately partial monetary satisfaction, a form of partial removal of the resulting harmful consequences in the inner sphere of the injured party's personality. Compensation for non-pecuniary damage due to violation of the right to personality, reputation, honor and dignity is recognized in cases when the harmful event could justifiably and objectively cause mental pain to the injured person, so when awarding the amount of compensation the mental pain that the injured party suffers, but also the personal characteristics of the injured party, the circumstances of the environment in which he lives, as well as all other circumstances of the specific case. Taking into account the circumstances of the specific case, the place of publication of the disputed article, published online, then the fact that this is not the first article by which the defendant insulted the plaintiff, because litigation was conducted against "Slobodna Dalmacija" d.d. Split for damages in whose daily newspaper the plaintiff made the same or similar defamatory and insulting allegations. Furthermore, the publisher "Slobodna Dalmacija" was fined for publishing an article with similar content, so that the plaintiff as a judge of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia experience is known to the general public, it is obvious that the defendant rudely insulted and diminished the reputation of the plaintiff of a judge and a man, questioning her morality as a judge and her impartiality and independence in the trial by denying her the qualities that a judge must have, without prior checks on the existence of facts as required by the rules of the journalistic profession. Repeated publication of insulting and unverified facts obviously had a negative impact on the personal and social life of the plaintiff, who was a judge of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia at the time of publication of the disputed article, reflected the negative reactions in public, including towards her son, a lawyer. Following the above, the position of this court is that the plaintiff is entitled to compensation for violation of the right to personality (right to dignity, honor and reputation). - Additionally, points out that the decision on the amount of compensation is determined by the court's discretion, taking into account guided by the Orientation Criteria for determining the amount of fair monetary compensation for non-pecuniary damage of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia and case law in similar cases.

Finally, in the reasoning of the verdict of Judge Biserka Boljat states that having in mind the findings about the plaintiff's feeling of hurt and humiliation, intensity and duration of mental pain and inconvenience caused by the publication of the disputed article, the court finds unfounded the defendant's claims that the plaintiff's personality is protected in the criminal proceedings, so the claim for payment of fair monetary compensation for the violation of the right to privacy was partially accepted, and the plaintiff was awarded the amount of damages in the amount of 10.000,00 EUR.

Author: Ivica Buljan

Translation: Lana Linda Fisković

The court in Šibenik accepted the lawsuit of the judge of the Supreme Court Senka Klarić Baranović by which the journalist Davorka Blažević has to pay the plaintiff 10.000 € plus the costs of the procedure in the name of the famous provision "violation of honor and reputation". Consequently, with this additional shameful court ruling, the blow to the journalistic profession continues and Croatia becomes the number one problem in the European Union, when it comes to journalistic and media freedoms.

The president of the Croatian Journalists' Association, Hrvoje Zovko, stated that this was one of the most scandalous verdicts against journalists and as such presented that the terror of lawsuits continues, and that this should be stopped once and for all.

- This verdict against my colleague Blažević, with which the CJA stands firmly, once again shows the manipulation of the law, whereby "mental pain" has become a lucrative business to the detriment of those who work in the public interest. Incredible is the fact that a great journalist is sued and won by a Supreme Court judge. This is inadmissible, but also possible only in Croatia, which is recognized in Europe as the most problematic country when it comes to SLAPP lawsuits, said Zovko, adding that the CJA is once again repeating its request, which will never give up, and that is decriminalization of all acts against honor and reputation, because such verdicts also mean the continuation of intimidation and ultimately the financial destruction of journalists.

In a statement for our portal, Davorka Blažević said that it was incomprehensible that the new verdict, without any new evidence that would be presented in court, would be completely opposite to the previous one in which she was acquitted.

- "And now I am asked to pay 75 thousand HRK for "mental pain", adding the costs of the procedure, a total of over one hundred thousand HRK! What are our courts doing? How are such large deviations possible? Basically, it is about the classic disciplining of critical journalism, about silencing journalists with high fines, about a clear message to the media that judges should not be talked about critically, because they are untouchable. It is absurd that in our country you can write anything you want about the president, prime minister, ministers, but not about judges, although the judiciary is the weakest point of the Croatian state according to all relevant criteria of international institutions. This is a classic proof of power, a procedure in which the plaintiff and the defendant were not equal from the first day, so the plaintiff behaved in this way throughout the proceedings, directly suggesting to her colleagues how to conduct the dispute. That says a lot about our judiciary, but even more about the freedom of the media, which clearly defines the space of freedom in which they can move. This is proof that, contrary to the Prime Minister's messages that there are no untouchables, there really are! If tomorrow we write in fear of lawsuits, what will journalism be like? Can we come to terms with this and agree to such blackmail? In short, I am appalled by the verdict, and what kind of "mental pain" Judge Klarić Baranović suffers, who in the meantime retired, that from a journalist, also retired, who dared to publicly say her opinion about a public figure (who, nota bene, judged in the most famous domestic affairs), asking for so much money? The verdict is shameless, unjust, censorious and in the wake of the most rigid undemocratic systems. Unsustainable!" - colleague Blažević is determined in her righteous anger.

The plaintiff requested an even larger amount of a total of HRK 150,000, but the court rejected part of the claim in favour of 75,000.00 HRK, finding the original amount as unfounded. The reasoning of the verdict, written on as many as twenty cards in dry legal language, states the course of the trial in the past few years and the court's view of the case. Earlier, the Zagreb County Court revoked the first-instance decision and returned the case to the Šibenik court for retrial.

As stated in the verdict in the repeated proceedings, the plaintiff persisted in the lawsuit and the claim, pointing out that the final verdict of the Municipal Court in Šibenik found the defendant guilty and convicted of a criminal offense against honor and reputation, insult to the detriment of the plaintiff. The verdict found that the defendant was in the journalistic portal "TRIS" on October 3, 2015 in an article entitled "Portrait of the Week / Senka Klarić Baranović, Judge of the Supreme Court: S(j)enka(shadow) bites Senka's tail", commenting on the decision of the Supreme Court Croatia in the "Fimi Media" case, made a number of insulting allegations against the plaintiff. As it is further pointed out in the judgment of the defendant, this is not the first article by which she insulted the plaintiff, with civil proceedings against "Slobodna Dalmacija" d.d. Split for damages in whose daily newspaper that the plaintiff made the same or similar defamatory and insulting allegations.

Defendant Davorka Blažević pointed out that all information published in this article represents her value judgments published in the public interest and in good faith and based on information she drew from other articles published in other media that she had no reason to believe to be true. She emphasized that she continued to oppose the lawsuit and the plaintiff's claim, pointing out that the publisher was responsible for the damage caused by the information published in the media in accordance with the Media Act.

Careful reading of the reasoning of this verdict leads to the conclusion that our judges are large mimosas, whose feelings can be cured only by a certain amount of money, so it is stated, among other things: - So, the purpose is to repair non-pecuniary damage in an effort to recover, as it is possible, with a fair and approximately partial monetary satisfaction, a form of partial removal of the resulting harmful consequences in the inner sphere of the injured party's personality. Compensation for non-pecuniary damage due to violation of the right to personality, reputation, honor and dignity is recognized in cases when the harmful event could justifiably and objectively cause mental pain to the injured person, so when awarding the amount of compensation the mental pain that the injured party suffers, but also the personal characteristics of the injured party, the circumstances of the environment in which he lives, as well as all other circumstances of the specific case. Taking into account the circumstances of the specific case, the place of publication of the disputed article, published online, then the fact that this is not the first article by which the defendant insulted the plaintiff, because litigation was conducted against "Slobodna Dalmacija" d.d. Split for damages in whose daily newspaper the plaintiff made the same or similar defamatory and insulting allegations. Furthermore, the publisher "Slobodna Dalmacija" was fined for publishing an article with similar content, so that the plaintiff as a judge of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia experience is known to the general public, it is obvious that the defendant rudely insulted and diminished the reputation of the plaintiff of a judge and a man, questioning her morality as a judge and her impartiality and independence in the trial by denying her the qualities that a judge must have, without prior checks on the existence of facts as required by the rules of the journalistic profession. Repeated publication of insulting and unverified facts obviously had a negative impact on the personal and social life of the plaintiff, who was a judge of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia at the time of publication of the disputed article, reflected the negative reactions in public, including towards her son, a lawyer. Following the above, the position of this court is that the plaintiff is entitled to compensation for violation of the right to personality (right to dignity, honor and reputation). - Additionally, points out that the decision on the amount of compensation is determined by the court's discretion, taking into account guided by the Orientation Criteria for determining the amount of fair monetary compensation for non-pecuniary damage of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia and case law in similar cases.

Finally, in the reasoning of the verdict of Judge Biserka Boljat states that having in mind the findings about the plaintiff's feeling of hurt and humiliation, intensity and duration of mental pain and inconvenience caused by the publication of the disputed article, the court finds unfounded the defendant's claims that the plaintiff's personality is protected in the criminal proceedings, so the claim for payment of fair monetary compensation for the violation of the right to privacy was partially accepted, and the plaintiff was awarded the amount of damages in the amount of 10.000,00 EUR.

Author: Ivica Buljan

Translation: Lana Linda Fisković

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