Montenegro investigative journalist to get Mackler award

Investigative reporter Jovo Martinovic of Montenegro has been give the 2018 Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism

A Montenegro-based freelance reporter who has investigated organized crime in Europe and war crimes in the Balkans has been selected for the 2018 Peter Mackler Award named for an AFP journalist, organizers said Wednesday.

Jovo Martinovic was named as the recipient of the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism.

The veteran freelance investigative journalist has worked for outlets including National Public Radio, BBC, Vice, CBS, Canal Plus, The Economist, Time, The Financial Times, GlobalPost and the Balkan Investigative Reporting network.

Martinovic's work helped expose war crimes including allegations of organ trafficking during and immediately after the 1999 conflict in Kosovo.

The investigations with US-based American RadioWorks led to the arrest and conviction of Serbian and Albanian paramilitaries and the creation of a new war crimes court in The Hague, organizers said.

Martinovic was arrested in October 2015 on charges of marijuana trafficking and participation in a criminal organization, and held for more than 14 months despite the failure by prosecutors to substantiate the allegations.

Martinovic has rejected the accusations and said that his contacts with criminal circles were strictly professional in the context of reporting.

Human Rights Watch criticized the detention of the journalist and said the accusations against him had little credibility.

He was working on a story on the notorious "Pink Panther" international jewel thieves gang whose members are mainly from the former Yugoslavia.

They are suspected of some hundred attacks on jewelry stores around the world.

The 44-year-old will be unable to accept his prize in person, and will participate in the September 27 award event in New York via video conference.

The prize was created in 2008 to honor the memory of longtime AFP journalist Peter Mackler, who died of a heart attack that year at the age of 58.

This year's event will be held at the Newmark Graduate Journalism School of the City University of New York.

Last year's award went to Marcos Vizcarra, who lives and works in Mexico's violent northwestern state of Sinaloa.

Partners in the award are the Global Media Forum training group, the US branch of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and Agence France-Presse.

Previous recipients have been honored for reporting in Burundi, Syria, Pakistan, Sudan, Kazakhstan, Honduras, Russia and Sri Lanka.