'Freedom of media in Bosnia still threatened'

SARAJEVO, Jan 13, 2000 -- (AFP) The freedom of the media in Bosnia was still threatened in 1999 as several independent journalists faced serious assaults and some media remained under control of nationalist parties, a human rights group said Wednesday.

In 1999 several independent journalists were physically attacked while others faced different kinds of pressure after writing articles criticizing certain individuals and groups, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia said in its annual report obtained by AFP Wednesday.

The most serious incident occurred in Banja Luka, the Bosnian Serb entity administrative center, when the car of the editor-in-chief of an independent newspaper, Zeljko Kopanja, was blown up last October.

The assault, in which Kopanja lost both legs, took place after the Nezavisne Novine newspaper printed a series of articles about war crimes committed by Serb forces against ethnic Muslims and Croats during the 1992-95 conflict.

In a Sarajevo court 15 criminal charges were filed against the editor-in- chief of the independent magazine Slobodna Bosna, which has often criticized nationalism and corruption among leaders of all Bosnia's three ethnic groups -- Muslims, Serbs and Croats.

The report said that "the difficult material position of media and journalists" was jeopardizing the freedom of media.

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