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INFO   :::  Human Rights > Legal Aid > Legal Aid - Cases


Legal Aid - Cases

09/22/2003, Author: HCHRS


Miniri Culfi vs. Odzaci Municipality

The Public Housing Administration in Odzaci gave complainer Miniri Culfi and his nine-member family a 108-square meters apartment to use it for good. The relevant agreement was signed on May 14, 1985. During 1990s wars unknown persons made Miniri Culfi leave his apartment under threat of killing him. Culfi reported the case to the police. The Culfi family was temporarily accommodated with in-laws in Kula. The Housing Commission tasked with allocating apartments in the municipality's possession illegally gave the family's apartment to another tenant, thus disabling Culfi to buy it out. The new tenant bought out the apartment, whereby turning it into a private property. In spite of all, the complainer was charged taxes on the apartment until December 31, 2001.

Apart from the apartment, the complainer had signed a valid contract on 5-year lease of public property for the purpose of building a provisional, 45-square meter facility. Though the 5-year period had expired, the lease was silently prolonged. M. Culfi used the provisional facility for a business his large family lived on. In 1999, while the war was still on, unknown persons damaged the facility, and shortly after that building inspectors showed up to remove it to unknown destination. The same as in the case of the apartment, the complainer was charged taxes on the facility till December 31, 2001. 2001.

Given that the complainer is an ethnic Albanian, and that illegal acts on the part of the municipality and unknown persons were obviously ethnically motivated, the Helsinki Committee decided to represent M. Culfi.

The Committee pressed charges against the Odzaci municipality and demanded damages amounting to the apartment's and the facility's market values, plus taxes M. Culfi had regularly paid, interests included.


The Helsinki Committee Represents Fired Employees of the Prosveta Publishing House

Complainers Mirjana Naradin, computer operator, and Ljubica Stjepanovic-Muhic, documentation officer, both working for the Prosveta Publishing House, reported the company' illegal business transactions to relevant governmental authorities, the Interior Ministry in the first place. The malverzation, mostly financial, involved, according to them, the company's director and another six persons. Once they went public with the case, which they have already reported to the police and the Helsinki Committee, the two workers were fired on July 15, 2003, under the pretext of "going public with false information about the company's business, whereby they inflicted huge material damage on the company."

The Helsinki Committee will represent M. Naradin and Lj. Stjepanovic - Muhic in a lawsuit instituted to defy legality of their walking papers. The Committee will also monitor the police's investigation into the evidence material presented by the two complainers.


The Helsinki Committee Files a Complaint against Officials of the Veterinary Station

On August 8, 2002, in Ovca nearby Belgrade, a group of workers of the Belgrade Veterinary Station, headed by A.P., inspector of the Belgrade Secretariat for Inspection - Environment Protection Department, D.Z., president of the Station's management board, and M.L., the Station's director, forced the private property of complainer Katarina Ristic. They forced open the gate, entered her yard and freely moved all over (with the intention to take her fifteen dogs from her). They thus committed the crime of inviolability of private property under Article 68, para 2, of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia.

Interestingly, the accused were accompanied by 20-odd policemen of the Palilula police station, their captain included, six dogcatchers, four police vehicles and two vans of the Veterinary Station. The Arka non-governmental organization turned to the Helsinki Committee to indicate that such large number of policemen involved in such a case may involve some officials of the city administration, intent to misuse the Belgrade City Assembly's funds set aside for elimination of stray dogs and cats.

On April 4, 2003, the Helsinki Committee filed a complaint against the above persons with the First Municipal Prosecution in Belgrade. All of them were accused of the crime of inviolability of one's home under Article 68, para 2, of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia.

As the Prosecution rejected the accusation, the Committee brought a charge with the First Municipal Court in Belgrade.


The Helsinki Committee Sues Police Officers for Torture

Predrag Barnic was under investigation for the crime of robbery under Article 168 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia. As a suspect, he was kept in detention. On August 8, 2002, upon the request from the Smederevo Police Department and accompanied by policemen, Barnic was taken to the village of Selevac, Smederevo municipality, for the purpose of tracking down stolen property. Actually, Barnic was driven to his uncle's house. There, several officers on duty begun to physically torture him by tying him to a chair and placing a nylon bag over his head. While Barnic was choking for air, they were hitting him with their hands and other solid objects all over his body. The officers then drove the seriously injured and unconscious Barnic, with blood leaking from his ear, to the Smederevo Medical Center to be given first aid. Barnic was given an infusion, his left shank was immobilized, and a surgery was indicated. Regardless of his serious condition, the policemen took him back to the Smederevo District Prison. Nowadays, Barnic rarely visits a physician, has external fixation on his left shaft, and, though operated, still walks on crutches.

In the meantime, Barnic was sentenced to four years and three months imprisonment for the crime of robbery under Article 168 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia.

Barnic is kept in detention until the sentence ruled to him comes into effect.

On December 6, 2002, Barnic filed a criminal complaint against unknown persons (at that time he was still unaware of the policemen's identities) with the Smederevo District Prosecution. He charged them with misconduct. On December 6, 2002, the Prosecution forwarded his complaint to the Smederevo Police Department in order to gather further information. Over six months that followed, neither have the police answered back, nor has the Prosecution issued any information about activities undertaken or reasons for the stall.

After Barnic turned to the Helsinki Committee, its lawyer on June 12, 2003, filed another criminal complaint against persons specified by name and their functions (six persons, including one inspector and five officers).


Charges Brought against Four Staffers of the Pancevo District Court

When arrested on March 17, 2003, Dalibor Andrejic from Vrsac was immediately taken to the Vrsac detention center - a branch of the Pancevo District prison, where he was kept in custody under decision of an investigating judge. Andrejic was under investigation as a suspect in the crime of violent behavior under Article 220 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia, and under Article 33 of the Law on Arms and Ammunition.

On March 19, 2003, within the prison compound, Andrejic was beaten up with truncheons by three security officers (B.I., Z.J., and D.D.) and in the presence of the prison chief security guard. The institution's physician described in his report Andrejic's physical injuries inflicted on the occasion as light.

Having accepted to represent Andrejic, on June 9, 2003, the Helsinki Committee filed a criminal complaint against these four persons with the Vrsac District Prosecutor. All of them were accused of misconduct under Article 242 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia, providing infliction of severe physical injuries.


Paradoxical Conclusion by the Zajecar Municipal Prosecution

The Zajecar District Court sentenced Dimitrije Bobolokic to six-year imprisonment for the crime of rape under Article 103, paras 1 and 3, of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia. The Supreme Court of Serbia confirmed this sentence, whereby Andrejic was punished for having raped a minor, D.J.

Dimitrije Bobolokic has been sent to serve his time in the Nis Penitentiary.

In the meantime, key witness for the prosecution, then minor M.S., and a friend of D.J. - whose testimony was crucial for passing the sentence - wrote a letter to imprisoned Bobolokic. In the letter she confessed that, in tandem with D.J., she gave a false statement before the court, whereby she had accused him of rape. However, as she put it, she was unwilling to do anything about the matter fearing she might found herself in the dock.

Having scrutinized both the court's decision and evidence material on which it was grounded, the Helsinki Committee detected serious failures of both judicial and investigating proceedings, and decided it was necessary to institute new criminal proceedings. Therefore, the Helsinki Committee's lawyer filed a criminal complaint against M.S. and D.J. for the crime of perjury under Article 204, paras 3 and 4, of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia, and against B.J., mother of D.J., for inciting the said crime. The complaint was filed with the Zajecar Municipal Prosecution.

On June 13, 2003, the Prosecution rejected the complaint against M.S. and D.J. for procedural reasons. The complaint against B.J. was also rejected under explanation that the damaged party himself is entitled to press charges.

The Prosecution's communication of June 13 quoted, among other things, that the complaint against M.S. and D.J. was rejected because

Namely, the complaints were rejected on the grounds of "illegal, inaccurate and unacceptable interpretation of relevant provisions."

However, the complaint against M.S. and D.J. explicitly quotes that the two are accused The fact that the Helsinki Committee made a mistake of the pen by referring to Article 3 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia, instead of quoting Article 4, is hardly a reason enough to ignore other counts of the complaint and submitted evidence. In addition, a prosecution office is supposed to qualify a crime only after having gathered other relevant information and evidence. Had the Prosecution thoroughly and carefully read the complaint, the fact that the accused had been sentenced to a 6-year imprisonment should have attracted its notice and lead it to a logical conclusion that the accused had suffered severe consequences. Along with the anyway sufficient information provided in the letter written by M.S., the evidence that should have been gathered indicate that there is reasonable doubt that M.S. committed perjury, which resulted in severe consequences for the indictee, now a damaged party.

Given that Article 206, paras 3 and 4, provide at least one-year imprisonment as the punishment for perjury, it is more than clear the precondition implying >punishment that exceeds five-year imprisonment

The Municipal Prosecution's explanation for refusing the complaint against B.J. for perjury in inciting a crime, regulated under Article 206, paras 3 and 4, of the Basic Criminal Code is even more paradoxical. In its communication of June 13, the Municipal Prosecution says, inter alia, >The inspection of the case's documentation...led to an unquestionable conclusion that the suspect, B.J., had taken no deliberate action to incite or strengthen her daughter's (then the minor D's) determination to take the illegal action with elements of the said crime. It was asserted that S.M., while in witness stand, had committed a perjury in the trial of Bobolokic...since she admitted (in her letter to Bobolokic) that it had occurred to allegedly damaged D.J. to report Bobolokic for rape in order to provide an excuse for her and her friend's truancy. She also admitted that D.J. claimed in her mother's presence that Bobolokic had raped her, and that B.J. believed her. D.J.'s attitude truly and undeniably deluded her mother into believing that the accused Bobolokic had committed a crime. B.J. was thus unaware of the real state of affairs at the time the crime was committed.

The above explanation is totally contradictory and illogical, and speaks of the deputy municipal prosecutors sluggishness. It is utterly unclear when and how it was asserted that M.S. had committed perjury, and how possibly can the principle of opportunity be applied to the crime for which the law provides one-year imprisonment at least.

However, what concerns one the most in this case is that the Zajecar Municipal Prosecution, in its decision No. KT 2/03 of July 17, 2003, rejected a criminal complaint the counts of which were fully detailed, and did it under the pretext that >there is no reasonable doubt that the accused have committed these crimes.

The Helsinki Committee informed the Republican Public Prosecutor about what kind of decisions lower prosecution offices were taking.

The Helsinki Committee is resolute to further represent Dimitrije Bobolokic for the purpose of finally disclosing the truth in this particular case.





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