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Last Updated: Friday, 28 May, 2004, 19:49 GMT 20:49 UK
Montenegro in shock over journalist murder
Car of murdered editor Dusko Jovanovic
Mr Jovanovic was gunned down in Podgorica on Thursday night

Montenegrin officials and media outlets have expressed outrage at the killing of Dusko Jovanovic, the editor-in-chief of the main opposition daily paper Dan.

Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said the murder was an ominous reminder of the fact that "the consequences of the violence that went on for more than a decade are still here and are still a threat".

In a statement carried by the Montenegrin government web site, Djukanovic described the killing as "not only a tragedy for the Jovanovic family and the Dan editorial office, but an assault on the peace and stability of Montenegro and a threat to the security of its citizens".

Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic issued a statement saying that the authorities would make every effort to bring the perpetrators to justice and that the Montenegrin government was committed to upholding media freedom.

'Monstrous murder'

But within the Montenegrin media itself, the strength of this commitment was questioned.

Slavoljub Scekic, the editor of another Podgorica-based paper, Vijesti, described Mr Jovanovic's killing as "a monstrous murder" that carried a message "not just to the media in Montenegro but to everyone that they are not safe".

Scekic said the murder "says a lot about the times we are living in" and called on the police to dispel any doubts over their efficiency by making progress in the investigation.

This crime is too big and unbearable a burden for the executive authorities of the country
Association of Newspaper Publishers and Electronic Media of Serbia and Montenegro

"If the police fail to solve this crime, we shall not regard them as incapable, which I think of them now, but that they have their reasons for the failure," he said, according to the Montenegrin news agency Mina.

The main umbrella organisation for the press in Serbia and Montenegro, the Association of Newspaper Publishers and Electronic Media, also questioned whether the authorities were capable of solving the crime, pointing out that the killers of two other journalists still remained at large.

"This crime is too big and unbearable a burden for the executive authorities of the country which already has on its shoulders the unsolved murders of journalists Slavko Curuvija and Milan Pantic," a statement issued by the organisation said.

This is a shot fired at freedom of speech in general and at Montenegrin free journalism in particular

It called on the authorities to take steps to rectify this situation.

"We are convinced that this time the executive authorities will not allow the murderers and their masters to remain unknown and unpunished and that... preconditions will be created for such heinous crimes to become inconceivable," the statement said.

Assault on democracy

Dan itself saw the killing as a deliberate attempt to silence the paper - which has been sharply critical of the government and has been involved in a number of libel lawsuits brought by Mr Djukanovic - and as an attack on democracy.

"Last night we witnessed the most terrifying attempt to silence Dan," the paper's editorial said.

"This was not just a shot fired at a brave man... This is a shot fired at freedom of speech in general and at Montenegrin free journalism in particular, at democracy, and finally, at the freedom of the entire nation," the paper declared.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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