Non-governmental media institutions are concerned with the misdemeanor proceedinsg started against journalist Victor Sofroni – one of the founders of the Rezina weekly “Cuvântul”, and director of the “ImpulsTV” station in Șoldănești – and request that charges be dropped. In a press release, quoted by IPN, the NGOs state that the Rezina Prosecutor’s Office accuse Victor Sofroni of placing an “knowingly false” police emergency call, when the journalist had merely asked the police to verify information on a potential murder, which had been provided to him by an anonymous source.
The statement mentions that at the end of 2017, an unknown person used the Viber application to send journalist Victor Sofroni two images of a human corpse taken in the forest land between districts Rezina and Orhei. To verify this information, the journalist contacted the Șoldănești Police chief, who forwarded the tip to the Rezina Police Inspectorate. A police emergency unit checked the place of the alleged crime and failed to discover any corpse. Consequently, it was identified that the images the journalist had received were taken off a website and were from a case that happened in 2016 in Russia.
Following this conclusion, in January 2018, the Rezina Police has opened a criminal file for hooliganism on journalist Victor Sofroni and, in July, the Rezina Prosectuor’s Office dismissed the file and revised the charges under the Contravention Code, and is charging him with an “intentional false police call”, liable to a fine.
Media NGOs deem the reason for initiating a case, and the legal argumentation of the alleged “misdemeanor” as absurd, since journalist Victor Sofroni did nothing more than ask the police to verify information given to him by unknown persons. Journalists are obligated to check information before publishing it, which Victor Sofroni had attempted to do. Furthermore, there is no argument in support of the “intentionally false” police call.
“Filing criminal or misdemeanor cases against journalists who exercise their profession in earnest is unacceptable in a democratic society. We ask the Office of the Prosecutor General of Moldova and the Prosecutor Inspection service to verify the legality of the actions taken by the Rezina Prosecutor’s Office in this case, and to order a dismissal in the misdemeanor case of journalist Victor Sofroni,” the statement says.
The signers of the statement are: the Association for Independent Press, the Independent Journalism Center, the Center for Investigative Journalism, the Association of Independent Tele-journalists, RISE Moldova, the Association of Electronic Press, the Press Freedom Committee, and the “Acces-info” Center.