The Zagreb municipal court on Thursday released the well-known journalist Jasna Babic – who was taken into custody earlier this week for missing her own libel trial.Babic was released two days after being jailed on Tuesday, January 22nd, to ensure that she attended the libel trial against her initiated by businessman Dikan Radeljak.
She had missed 16 previously scheduled trial sessions and has now been ordered to attend the next session, scheduled for Monday.
Radeljak sued Babic over a critical article she wrote his real estate purchases in the coastal resort of Dubrovnik.
After her release, Babic denied deliberately missing her trial, saying she had not received a court summons.
“In the meantime I attended a lot of other trials, not to mention how many times the police contacted me on the phone,” Babic said.
She said the “big mess” had occurred because the court summons were sent to her former office, where she no longer works.
The decision to place a journalist in custody for avoiding a trial was seen as unprecedented in Croatia.
The main journalists’ association, the HND, and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, both protested.
Babic has been a prominent investigative journalist for more than 25 years and has written two books, about the crime scene in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, and about the trial of General Tihomir Blaskic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY.
The Croatian media was rated “partly free” in the US-based watchdog Freedom House’s most recent assessment of the world’s press.