His Excellency Boris Tadić,
Madame Slavica Đukić Dejanović,
Premier Mirko Cvetković,
His Excellency Ambassador Vincent Degert,
His Excellency Ambassador Constantin
FREEDOM FOR SIX POLITICAL PRISONERS IN SERBIA!
In bringing this matter to your kind attention, we petition for dismissal of the indictment against Sanja Dojkić (19), Tadej Kurepa (24), Nikola Mitrović (29), Ivan Savić (25), Ratibor Trivunac (28) and Ivan Vulović (24) and/or for their release.
These six young civil activists and union members from Belgrade have been in custody since September, 2009 under the charge of committing ‘an act of international terrorism’ for which, under the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia, a prison term of between three and fifteen years is foreseen. The trial will commence on 17th February 2010.
On 3rd and 4th September, 2009 police in Belgrade arrested six citizens suspected of having thrown two Molotov cocktails at the building of the Greek Embassy in Belgrade on 25th August, 2009, which caused minor material damage to a window frame and part of a window pane of the Embassy. The persons in question are young civil activists and union members: Sanja Dojkić (19), Tadej Kurepa (24), Nikola Mitrović (29), Ivan Savić (25), Ratibor Trivunac (28) and Ivan Vulović (24).
Responsibility for this act was taken by the Crni Ilija [Black Ilija] group, unknown to the public until then, with the explanation that they had wanted thereby to direct attention to the case of the Greek activist Theodoris Iliopoulos, who was on a hunger strike in prison at that time.
Although they were arrested under the suspicion of ‘causing general jeopardy’, the act for which the arrested persons were suspected was pre-qualified into ‘an act of international terrorism’, by which throwing two beer bottles filled with petrol was equalised with an act that the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia classifies alongside genocide, crimes against Humanity, war crimes against civil populations, organising and inciting the execution of genocide and war crimes, and aggressive war.
It was ruled that the suspects be kept in custody for a month, which was then extended twice so that now (at the end of January) they have been incarcerated for almost five months.
At the beginning of November, 2009 the final indictment was entered against the defendants, and that for an act of international terrorism, for which, according to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia, a prison term of between three and fifteen years is foreseen.
At the end of January, 2010 it was announced that the trial would begin at the High Court in Belgrade on 17th February 2010.
The case of the six detainees is disputable from several aspects.
Even if one sets aside the fact that their guilt has not been proven, several extensions of their detainment and its duration to date seem indubitably unjustified and excessive, since those involved are in no way dangerous criminals, and they could not exert influence on the further course of proceedings in any way. As far as we are informed, visits to them have been considerably reduced, while Tadej Kurepa has even been beaten up by criminals with whom he is accommodated in a joint cell.
It is also seems unjustified and excessive to qualify the incriminating act as ‘an act of international terrorism’. One can read off from the action in question that it was carried out without any intent to cause human casualties, and that the material damage caused was insignificant and estimated at a worth of €18. The Greek Embassy publicly stated its stance that it regarded this incident as minor, and that it did not cause the cessation or hampering of its activities.
However, the judicial bodies have qualified the act – as an ‘act of international terrorism’ – in the same category as genocide, crimes against Humanity, war crimes against the civil population, organising and inciting genocide and war crimes, and aggressive war.
On the other hand, during the disturbances that broke out in Belgrade on the occasion of the pronouncement of the independence of Kosovo, not only were the embassies of Croatia, Germany and Canada attacked by riotous demonstrators, but the building of the Embassy of the United States of America was broken into and later set on fire, while one of the demonstrators lost his life in that incident. An indictment has been filed against only one person and that almost a year and a half after the act committed. That act was qualified as ‘causing general jeopardy’, while the accused in this case is walking free [not incarcerated] until his trial.
Whatever the role of the six detainees in throwing Molotov cocktails at the Greek Embassy, it seems absurd that an act that was much more serious, resulting in extensive material damage and a human victim, should be qualified as being less serious in relation to what resulted in merely minor material damage, while the treatment of the suspects/accused is dramatically different.
Apart from this being a case of the application of twofold standards and evident discrimination, the wrong message is being sent in this way to violent persons acting from nationalistic and fascist positions – that they can spread the language of hatred and act wildly with impunity – while the police and the judicial bodies are in fact dealing with ‘disruptive elements’ on the left, while they treat right-wing forces benevolently.
Finally, we would like to underscore that, in this procedure, the ethical principles of liberty, equality, justice and the presumption of innocence, as they are concretely laid down in relevant internationally recognised documents such as the General Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, have been blatantly violated.
Due to the fact that some of the detainees have acted to date as activists for workers’ rights, uncompromising critics of the collusion between big business and official policy, and of nationalistic and fascistic trends in society, there are strong indications that the case in question is a political process – which is impermissible anywhere – and, thus, also in the so-called transitional countries facing the task of building and/or consolidating democracy, civil society and the mechanisms for protection of human rights. If their public activities and their membership in a particular political group to date is the reason for undertaking such drastic measures, then this really is a matter of limitation of civil and political freedoms and/or a showdown with the authentic political opposition, while the six young activists and union members can be considered to be political prisoners.
Bearing in mind the above-mentioned facts, as well as the fact that the court case related to this severe and unjust indictment has been announced for 17th February 2010, we join in the numerous protests that have been organised in relation to this matter in Serbia and throughout Europe and the world, and appeal for the dismissal of the charge entered against Sanja Dojkić, Tadej Kurepa, Nikola Mitrović, Ivan Savić, Ratibor Trivunac and Ivan Vulović and/or for their release.
We are addressing this appeal to the institutions and individuals
above-mentioned, in the hope of directing their attention to the
facts and implications of this case, and to call on them to undertake
everything in their power to comply with the petition herein.
To sign the petition: http://www.slobodno-drustvo.net/?page_id=72