Legal documents on special issue of 'The Student' of 25 June 1968
In the decision of the Belgrade District Court on June 28, 1968, it appears that the court banned the further distribution of “Student”, and furthermore could not decide what to do with the already confiscated issues. However, several weeks later on 18 July, it was decided that all confiscated samples of the journal would be destroyed “by being processed by the paper factory in Belgrade, with the appropriate compensation that will be put into the budget of the city of Belgrade as […] surplus income” (Kv. 752/68). Although the original document containing a detailed explanation of the ban is missing, it is still possible to reconstruct events by inspecting the available materials. This file also contains an appeal to the District Court, stating that the court's decision was unfounded because facts were incorrect, and the court “extracted incriminating sentences, individual expressions, and even only certain words from the articles so that the resulting conclusion was completely different than the original information”(Kr. 93/68, Belgrade District Court). One of the accusations of the court was that the texts in this issue suggested “a severe revolt against the working class and other working people in our country,” which is cited in the appeal as absurd.
Other documents reveal that the appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court on the grounds that usually, “an article in the press is absorbed by the reader as it was written without any additional explanation by the writers of the article.” (Kr. 996/68). The Supreme Court's ruling indicated that the writers of the article were, “stressing certain negative phenomena, and such generalization of these phenomena, which depict our socio-political system entirely as backward, hopeless and stale, cannot be understood differently than to express and disseminate such distorted news and insights in order to cause peoples' unrest”.
Particularly problematic is the last sentence in the article Mystery and Hysteria by Nebojša Popov, which says “who can not listen to a song, will listen to a storm,” which can be interpreted as spreading of alarming news to threaten “public order and peace” and as a “threat of new unrest” (Kr. 996/68).
Among the court materials, the District Court's decision to terminate the investigation against Nebojša Popov and the chief editor Đorđija Vuković of “Student" can be found who were charged with the criminal offense of spreading fake news through the press (Article 292 of the Criminal Law). The basis for suspending the investigation against Vuković was that the incriminating article Mysteries and Hysteria was written by Popov, and had no connection to Vuković. The investigation against Popov was suspended on 25 June, because the problematic text had been seized. Thus, the charge of “spreading fake news” was dropped (see Kr. 927/68).
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- Radović, Sanja