ZAGREB, October 29, 2019 – The Zagreb Municipal Labour Court ruled on Tuesday that the president of the Croatian Journalists Association (HND), Hrvoje Zovko, had been fired unlawfully by the Croatian Radio and Television (HRT) public broadcaster last year.
Under the ruling, which may be appealed, Zovko is to be reinstated as an editor at HRT.
In a statement to Hina, Zovko said that he had expected such a verdict and was satisfied with it. “The verdict confirms what I have been saying from day one,” he said.
The dispute between Zovko and HRT ensued after the HRT management last September made a decision on an instant dismissal of its reporter and HND president. The dismissal was initiated based on a complaint by the editor-in-chief of Croatian Television’s (HTV) news service, Katarina Periša Čakarun.
Some ten days before that, Zovko tendered his resignation as the editor-in-chief of the HTV Channel 4, saying in a letter that his decision was due to pressure, censorship, an unprofessional choice of topics, lack of organisation and serious technical problems on Channel 4.
This was followed by a meeting with Periša Čakarun, at which she accepted his resignation. However, only two hours later, Zovko was invited to a second meeting at which an argument erupted between him and Periša Čakarun.
HRT said Zovko had been dismissed due to a grave breach of rules of office and conduct, a number of insults he said, inappropriate conduct and inappropriate and unprofessional statements, adding that the incident happened during working hours in HRT offices.
The HRT Staff Council voted against Zovko’s dismissal but its opinion was not binding on the HRT management.
Zovko has dismissed accusations from his notice of dismissal on several occasions.
Last November HRT decided to reinstate him but he was suspended on the same day pending the completion of the court proceedings.
Apart from the HND’s branch at HRT, Zovko was also supported by international journalists’ associations.
More news about pressure on journalists in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.