Serbia: Police Claim Journalist Faked Own Kidnapping

June 19, 2018 | Media and Politics

The prosecution is launching an investigation into whether Stefan Cvetkovic, a Serbian journalist who went missing for two days last week, faked his own kidnapping.

Source: BalkanInsight

Serbian Police Claim Journalist Faked Own Kidnapping

By Filip Rudic, Milan Radonjic, Jelena Veljkovic BIRN Belgrade

Serbian police said on Tuesday that they have filed a criminal complaint against Cvetkovic, who went missing for two days last week, alleging that he committed a felony by falsely reporting that he had been kidnapped.

"The prosecution should check the allegations in the complaint... and the court will decide whether he is guilty or innocent," prosecutor Tihomir Knezevic told the regional TV station N1.

But Cvetkovic on Tuesday maintained that he was kidnapped and asked for an international investigation into the case, although he had difficulty explaining the inconsistencies in his account of the events.

“Primarily out of concern for the safety of journalists, I will ask for an international investigation,” Cvetkovic told a press conference in Belgrade.

He said that he will take the hat allegedly used by the kidnappers to cover his eyes, which he previously refused to hand over to Serbian police, to an unnamed foreign embassy.

Cvetkovic vanished last Wednesday night in his hometown of Bela Crkva, and his car was found with open doors and its lights turned on, and a torn-off wristwatch lying nearby.

The ensuing search for the missing journalist involved several dozen members of the special Gendarmerie police unit along with divers, search dogs, and two helicopters.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Friday that Cvetkovic had been found unharmed, and that the investigation into his disappearance had found that many of the hints that suggested he had been kidnapped appeared to have been staged.

Cvetkovic described what he said happened to him in an interview with BIRN and at the press conference on Tuesday, but his account was vague and conflicted with the statement he made to police.

Cvetkovic said that three men blocked his car in the middle of the road, pulled him out and placed him in their own car - all in total silence. He said that he did not struggle because one of the men had an official-looking badge.

He added that they even told him to answer his phone when it rang while he was being kidnapped.

According to Cvetkovic, the kidnappers held him in a house near Bela Crkva for a while, then, as the search for him intensified, drove him back to the police-filled town and left him near the centre.

Serbian prosecutors insisted however that no DNA other than Cvetkovic’s was found at the scene of the alleged kidnapping.

They also said that Cvetkovic called his mother on the phone during his alleged abduction.

Initial reports from last Thursday said that Cvetkovic was a journalist investigating the murder of Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic.

Cvetkovic told a press conference in February that Ivanovic's assassination was bought with a 40,000-euro payment and showed a photograph of a person allegedly involved in the murder.

However, the man in the picture was identified as a sandwich shop owner from Vancouver, Canada. Asked to explain this, Cvetkovic said that he received the photo from unnamed Albanian colleagues.

Cvetkovic does not work in conventional media, and publishes his reports on his private blog. journalist-faked-own-kidnapping-06-19-2018