Filmmaker Emir Kusturica in slander case

A Montenegrin appeals court on Thursday overturned an allogation ruling against a local columnist who called award-winning film director Emir Kusturica a supporter of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

The High Court in Montenegro's capital Podgorica said the lower court ruling, which ordered journalist Andrej Nikolaidis to pay US$6,000 to Kusturica was "not based on solid reasons and decisive facts."

The lower court last year found Nikolaidis guilty of slander for calling Kusturica "the media star of Milosevic's war machinery."

The High Court ordered the case returned to the lower court, but no date was set for a new trial.

In a May 2004 article published by local weekly Monitor, Nikolaidis criticized Kusturica for abandoning his native Bosnia at the time of the ethnic war there when Bosnia's Serbs battled Bosnia's Muslims and Croats.

Kusturica, who had won the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) in 1985, left his native Bosnia before the 1992-95 conflict and took up self-imposed exile in neighboring Serbia, which was the dominant republic in Yugoslavia.

Milosevic's government partly financed some of Kusturica's work, including the film "Underground" that brought Kusturica his second Palme d'Or, in 1995.

Angered by Nikolaidis' accusations, Kusturica sued the columnist for slander and won the case in November 2004, but the High Court's ruling says the original verdict "lacks convincing and logical reasons" to prove that "Nikolaidis had the intention to slander Kusturica."

The court's judge, Radomir Ivanovic, confirmed the new ruling but declined to elaborate, the AP reports.


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