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FoE Croatia: The company Razvoj Golf cannot silence us!

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The company Razvoj golf is trying to intimidate Zelena akcije/Friends of the Earth Croatia in court and, under the threat of a large fine, stop them from further action in the public interest.

Yesterday, a hearing was held at the Municipal Court in Dubrovnik on a private lawsuit of Razvoj Golf against the responsible persons of FoE Croatia: Željka Leljak Gracin, Enes Ćerimagić and Luka Tomac. In a criminal proceeding, Razvoj Golf is seeking the punishment of the responsible persons for the campaign in which FoE Croatia called for compliance with the law and court rulings regarding the construction of an apartment complex on Srđ in Dubrovnik. "This proceeding of razvoj Golf is nothing less than oppression and an attempt to stifle democratic debate," said Luka Tomac, president of Zelena akcija and the third defendant.

This case is a typical example of what is called SLAPP in international practice, which is the English abbreviation for strategic lawsuits against public participation. "SLAPP is a lawsuit intended to censor, intimidate and silence all critics of the government or investors, as they are burdened with the costs of various legal proceedings until they give up their views", said Željka Leljak Gracin, the first defendant in the case.

FoE Croatia has been involved in the "Srđ is ours" campaign since 2010, and the campaign was key to revealing the true nature of the project, which was initially presented as harmless sports content in greenery. "In fact, it is a megalomaniac apartment complex multiple times bigger than any Dubrovnik neighborhood. The realisation of this project would additionally burden the overstretched Dubrovnik infrastructure, and most of the costs of building the necessary infrastructure would be borne by the citizens from public sources ", said the second defendant, Enes Ćerimagić.

In this proceeding, Razvoj golf seeks to punish each of the defendants from FoE Croatia in the amount of 300 daily incomes, which is a total of more than 200.000 HRK (around 30.000 EUR), without the costs of the proceeding. "For us who live on a salary, that amount endangers our existence. For FoE Croatia, which is financed by strictly earmarked funds through public tenders, the threat of such a punishment means the threat of being shut down", Leljak Gracin added.

The fact is that in a civil proceeding on the same case FoE Croatia was acquitted by the court in Zagreb for compensation for the damage to Razvoj golf. “Despite this, the company is not giving up on persecuting us. Now, in criminal proceedings, we are additionally burdened by the need to defend freedom of speech and by paying significant costs of court proceedings. All this leads to uncertainty for further work. However, they will not silence us", Tomac concluded.

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