The lawsuit was filed with the Basic Court in Banja Luka for damages due to defamation, in the amount of 6,000 KM. Milorad Dodik is represented by lawyer Goran Babić from Banja Luka. The lawsuit was filed against Davor Dragičević, a “Ringer Axel Springer” corporation from Belgrade and Milan Ćulibrk from Belgrade, in the capacity of the editor-in-chief of NIN Magazine (weekly informative newspaper). The lawsuit is based on a statement by Davor Dragičević that was published in the Weekly of Informative Newspapers (NIN) in March 2019:
The lawsuit further states that the defendant Davor Dragičević (the first accused) in an interview given to the weekly NIN, issue number 3560 of March the 21st 2019. Under the headline “Police and Dodik involved in David’s murder”, he made allegations about (prosecutor) Milorad Dodik, saying, among other things: “The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, is very well acquainted with the subject of the organized murder of David Dragičević and I cannot understand that he is receiving one of the murderers of my child, Milorad Dodik … Dragan Lukač, the Minister of the main dealer in the Republic of Srpska. The Ministry of the Interior uses it as its private organization for dealing and distributing cocaine in conjunction with Dodik… At the first funeral were the killers of my child and one of them is Milorad Dodik. “
As evidence, lawyer Goran Babić submitted:
- Copy of the front page of the weekly NIN, issue 3560, March the 21st 2019.
- Copy of the text entitled “Police and Dodik involved in David’s murder”, on pages 42-46, of the same edition.
As stated in the lawsuit, the cited allegations of the first accused represent statements of fact. Allegations of alleged involvement of prosecutors in murder and cocaine trafficking are allegations of the most serious crimes. Such factual statements of the defendant for the plaintiff are untrue and false. The burden of proving the truth of the allegations made in the defamation offense lies with the defendants.
The subject interview of the first defendant was marked by the first weekly NIN, the second defendant company and the third defendant editor as a “confession”. The plaintiff assumes that the first defendant’s statement about the plaintiff in the disputed statement was transmitted credibly. Regardless of the above, according to Milorad Dodik’s lawyer, the second defendant and the third defendant inadvertently ignored the untruthfulness of the first defendant’s “confession”, which is why they themselves, together with the first defendant, committed a defamation offense to the detriment of Milorad Dodik.
As for the print media, it is evident that the second defendant and the third defendant effectively controlled the content of the disputed expression of the first defendant for Milorad Dodik. It seems probable that the second defendant and the third defendant accepted the disputed expression of the first defendant as their own. First of all, among dozens of articles in the disputed edition, one controversial “confession” is marked in italics “exclusively” and placed on the front page. Also, it was singled out as the first content on pages 4 and 5 of the disputed edition, and with a significantly larger font of the number of titles of other contents. In the introductory text, journalist Tanja Nikolić Đaković essentially affirms the accuracy of the interview. In the editorial processing of the text, which is exclusively on the publisher and editor, the second defendant and the third defendant, including the subtitle in red italics, part of the statement about the plaintiff is emphasized, as the alleged “..kill of the child”.
Regarding the responsibility of the second defendant and the third defendant, Milorad Dodik’s lawyer Goran Babić, especially emphasizes the circumstance that the first defendant is not a police officer, prosecutor, judge or a person with a similar capacity. Also, the statement of the extended party was not given in the form of testimony, in official proceedings, under the threat of criminal liability in case of giving false testimony. The journalist, publisher and editor were aware of these circumstances. This additionally indicates that the second defendant and the third defendant acted with negligence, which means that there are conditions for their responsibility in terms of the cited provision of Article 5 paragraph 3 of the Law on Protection against Defamation.
In the stated statements, the defendants slandered Milorad Dodik because murder and cocaine trafficking are serious crimes. The defendants were malicious, trying to change the public’s perception of Milorad Dodik, by destroying his reputation. Milorad Dodik is a public figure in whom citizens, especially in the Republic of Srpska, have confidence. These are untrue facts that caused non-property damage to Milorad Dodik in the form of mental pain. The damage caused by defamation has a negative impact on the person and family of Milorad Dodik, especially if we keep in mind that he is a man who is a public figure, an established politician in the Republic of Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region. Milorad Dodik is now the chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and he previously announced the duty of the President of the Republic of Srpska, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Srpska, in a repeated mandate. Milorad Dodik’s credibility in the public was gained through long and dedicated work, which the defendants neglected by presenting untrue facts, as already stated in the lawsuit.
In this case, the damage is evident according to the objective criterion, the court of the public, and not only according to the subjective feeling of Milorad Dodik, given the weight of the untrue facts presented about Milorad Dodik. Following the case law in such cases, it is not necessary to prove non-pecuniary damage by special evidence. The stated facts damage the reputation of Milorad Dodik, and the damage is in the form of mental pain, as explained.
Milorad Dodik is aware that as a public figure he is more susceptible to criticism than others, especially to the criticism of political opponents, the media or dissidents and including the citizens. However, the presentation of the stated untrue facts has nothing to do with the freedom of expression of the defendants. By presenting untruths against Milorad Dodik, the defendants obviously abused the right prescribed by Article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which is directly applicable in Bosnia and Herzegovina pursuant to Article 2 item 2 of the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina. These provisions stipulate that “… the exercise of liberty includes both obligations and responsibilities, and may be subject to the conditions of restrictions and sanctions provided by law ..”, inter alia “..and for the protection of the reputation and rights of others ..” for the consequences arising from the dispute According to the statement, Davor Dragičević is also liable for this lawsuit on the basis of Article 5 and the Law on Protection against Defamation, which provision is cited in this lawsuit.
The second and third defendants disregarded the customary and ethical rules governing the work and activities of the media, including the print media, including the public interest, regardless of whether it is a commercial medium. These rules represent the prevention of seduction of the public by the media. In relation to the rules of professional reporting, the defendants were malicious towards Milorad Dodik, the lawsuit states.
The territorial jurisdiction of the Basic Court in Banja Luka is based on the provisions of Article 32, paragraph 1 of the Law on Civil Procedure of the Republic of Srpska (jurisdiction according to the place of occurrence of the damage).
According to the lawsuit, Milorad Dodik has a residence in the area of the Basic Court in Banja Luka. The weekly magazine NIN is distributed and read on the territory of the Republic of Srpska, i.e. on the territory of the Banja Luka court. NIN is traditionally read in this area. According to the content of its own website, NIN is “the absolute leader on the market of socio-political magazines in Serbia, the oldest and most influential weekly in the region” (www.nin.co.rs). This statement about the reputation of NIN on the official website is absolutely true and is not only for the purpose of advertising. This also testifies to the large-scale damage to Milorad Dodik.
Also, the jurisdiction of the Basic Court of Banja Luka for all defendants exists on the basis of the provision of Article 47, paragraph 3 of the Law on Civil Procedure. The actual jurisdiction of the same court is based on the provisions of Article 26 of the Law on Courts of the Republic of Srpska.
The legal basis of the lawsuit is based on the provisions of Articles 154, 155, 200, etc. Of the Law on Obligations, as well as the provisions of Article 5, paragraph 1, etc. Defamation Protection Act.
Considering that the first defendant Davor Dragičević is of unknown residence, it is proposed to submit the lawsuit via a bulletin board and in a daily newspaper, based on the provision of Article 348, paragraph 3 of the Law on Civil Procedure.
Milorad Dodik further proposes in the lawsuit that the court, after the conducted procedure, at least due to the omission under the conditions from Article 182, pass the following verdict. “Davor Dragičević undertakes to give Milorad Dodik, due to presenting untrue facts in the weekly NIN, issue number 3560 from March the 21st 2019, in the text entitled “Police and Dodik involved in David’s murder” jointly compensate non-pecuniary damage in the amount of 6000 KM, as well as the costs of litigation, with legal interest on the awarded amount, as well as the costs of the proceedings, counting from the day of first instance verdict, all within 30 days under threat of execution with a court fee of 468 KM ”.