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Human Rights in Serbia 2000


II - Independent Judiciary and Judicial System


1. Overview

Judiciary in Serbia has never been independent. The state nurtured for decades an obedient mind-set of the judiciary, which as such peaked in the year 2000. Judiciary bore the brunt of the regime's repression, which in its last stages led to elimination of division of power and subjugation of the judiciary to the executive power. Judiciary and police transmitted the political will of political strongmen. Hence the judiciary lost its reputation of impartial branch of power and the faith in the rule of law and justice was destroyed.

In the course of the year 2000 the process of politicisation of the judiciary and its abuses was completed. All this contributed to higher crime rate and devaluation of internationally adopted sets of values. Courts became very biased, often resorted to violations of human rights, including the right to fair trial. The executive branch could arbitrarily arrest, detain, convict anybody without any evidence and enforcement of final sentences or rulings could be prevented. Cases were often given to "compatible" judges, the ruling coalition loyalits.

All pro-independent judiciary campaigns and actions were brutally foiled, either through legal provisions or personnel blockade. Human resources policy was reduced to appointment of "compatible" and obedient judges, while "incompatible" or 'seditious' judges were quickly dismissed. Constitutionally-guaranteed permanence of the judicial function was suspended. Newly appointed judges often did not meet the criteria of high expertise, moral dignity, courage and honesty. This in turn depleted the personnel potential of the Serbian judiciary.

Financial status of judges depended on the will of the executive branch, which was bent on creating obedient and low-paid judges, while in parallel breeding corruption, and rewarding the loyal and obedient judges with loans and promotions.

Despite the change of authorities both at the federal and republican level, it is unrealistic to expect swift improvement in the sphere of judiciary. In fact the new authorities shall best demonstrate their genuine interest in establishment of democracy and the rule of law, if they hasten to tackle the most salient judiciary problems. In view of a poor situation in the judiciary it seems that the authorities in place face a long and struggle for the establishment of the rule of law and independent judiciary. Reform of the judiciary must immediately embrace both normative and personnel changes. A legal framework providing for full independence of the judiciary must be established. Independence of the judiciary must be constitutionally guaranteed and a new Act on Courts of Law must be passed. Added to that international legal standards must be fully implemented. Appointment and promotion of judges should remain beyond the executive branch influence, that is remain within the province of strictly judiciary prerogatives. It shall be necessary to decentralise and de-politicise courts of law, carry out all-embracing personnel changes, organise education and training of judges, notably in the area of human rights and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

But there is one long-standing problem related to the obedient mind-set of many judges. Namely it is noticed that some judges who in the past abused laws and judicial authority and are currently handling case with political background, have a tendency to please the new authorities, even at the expense of fair trials.


2. Financial security of judges

Good financial status of judges is one of the most important guarantees of genuine establishment of independent and impartial judiciary. The issue of financial status of judges can be settled only if there is there is a true resolve to establish a democratic society. According to the UN Basic Principles of Independent Judiciary, a state is duty-bound to provide for funds enabling normal functioning of the judiciary. Hence every state must prioritise adequate funding of the judiciary, and also financial means for preservation of independence, dignity and reputation of judicial profession (article 33 and 34). Salaries of judges must be commensurate with their status, reputation and responsibility.

The issue of financial security of judges is yet to be satisfactorily resolved in Serbia. In fact, because of a precarious financial status of judges, the executive was able to undercut all the judiciary efforts to maintain its already threatened independence. Judges in Serbia are nearing the category of poor citizens. Legislation in place in Serbia does not guarantee solid financial status of judges and courts, and in general does not meet international standards on financial status of judges and independence of the judiciary.

Low-paid judicial jobs also indicate that the division of power in Serbia was poorly implemented, as all the other public officials in Serbia have higher pays. Salaries of judges are not guaranteed by any legal act or law, and are often arbitrarily determined. In fact those salaries depend on the good or ill will of the executive branch and on the political moment. Judicial budget is part of the state budget, in which formation and spending the judicial authorities have very little say.

In December 2000 the judiciary personnel were 'rewarded' with a hefty pay hike (30%) : now a monthly salary of the Belgrade District Court judge is 200 DM (6,000 dinars), a Supreme Court judge receives every month 270 DM ( 8,000 dinars) and a Municipal Court judge gets a 170 DM (5,000 dinars) pay-check every month. Average monthly pay of court clerks is 70 DM (2,000 dinars). At the same time minimal consumer basket in November 2000 cost 320 DM (9,600 dinars).

The aforementioned salaries fail to provide for independence of the judiciary, and only secure the bare survival of members of the judicial profession. Many judges are yet to resolve their housing problems.

The aforementioned precarious financial status of judges opened the way for rampant corruption and criminalisation of the judiciary. That problem will have to be tackled too.


3. Terror against the judiciary

As described in detail in the HC Report on Human Rights in Serbia for the year 1999, the regime formally began its showdown with 'incompatible' judges in late 1999. Association of Judges of Serbia, the only organised (although unregistered) professional association of judges in Serbia bore the brunt of the regime's repression campaign. The first move within that campaign was "the decision of the National Parliament of the Repbulic of Serbia" to dismiss judges Slobodan Vucetic (Constitutional Court of Republic of Serbia), Zoran Ivosevic (Supreme Court of the Republic of Serbia) and Boza Prelevic (Fifth Municipal Court in Belgrade, the three most prominent and active members of the Association of Judges of Serbia," under Article 46, paragraph 4 related to Article 5 of the Judicial Rules of Procedure related to Dismissals. In case of dismissal of the three judges the ruling coalition did not even endeavour to adhere to the legally prescribed dimissal procedure.

Those unlawful decisions were only a prelude to similar procedures in the course of the year 2000. The most scandalous case concerned judge Bosko Papovic, investigative judge of the Pozarevac District Court. That case also indicated the importance of fair discharging of judicial duties in any society, notably as regards the protection of human rights and freedoms.

Dismissal procedure against judge Papic was motivated by his treatment of the case of café "Pasaz" case in Pozarevac. Judge Papic was tasked with investigating charges brought against R. Lukovic, N. Sokolovic and M. Sokolovic ("Otpor" members). Namely the local police accused them of criminal offence of attempted murder and assistance in attempted murder of brothers Lazic (bodyguards of Marko Milosevic , son of President Milosevic). How the judge proceeded in this matter and the true nature of proceedings is best illustrated by this statement of his: "Neither the testimonies of the accused and witnesses nor a special report of the Pozarevac police represented enough evidence or arose reasonable doubt that the indictees tried commit that offence(...) on the basis of all facts and statements I concluded that I had no case of criminal offence of attempted murder, and therefore no reasons whatsoever to detain those individuals...consequently I ordered the Belgrade Correctional Facility hospital and the Pozarevac prison to release them (...) then the President of the Pozarevac District Court ordered me to conduct investigation against the aforementioned indictees. Then I asked Jovan Stanojevic, the District Public Prosecutor, why he had ordered me to undertake that investigation and he answered that he acted on orders of the Republican Public Prosecutor's Office and that he was compelled to obey them. (N.B. Jovan Stanojevic, the District Public Prosecutor handed in his resignation amid those developments) (...) on Monday night I again went through all the documents related to the case, and again I could not find a shred of evidence in support of charges. Consequently I turned down the request for investigation. I demanded that the Extra-Debate Chamber of the Pozarevac District Court ruled on this disagreement between me as an investigative judge and the District Public Prosecutor. President of that Chamber and its two members decided that the investigation had to be resumed and on Monday, 24 hours after their release, the accused were once again detained (...) President of the Pozarevac District Court then informed me that Balsa Govedarica, President of the Supreme Court of Serbia, my distant cousin, instituted proceedings for my dismissal, thus acting in line with the Supreme Court faxed message that I be relived of my duties. Reasoned opinion in writing of the Supreme Court decision, likewise the one of its president, stated that I did not act in accordance with the law, as the law required an immediate arrest of the accused, that I damaged the District Court reputation, and reputation of its judges by challenging the decision of its extra-debate chamber, and that I treated the whole case in an unprofessional and slipshod manner. And the urgency of the case was best illustrated by the fact that seven days on the Supreme Court failed to rule on the appeal of the accused to be released. (Nedeljni Telegraf, 24 May 2000)

But 'purging' of the judiciary involved in this case continued. Because of the Pozeravac incident and the ensuing developments, the protest rally was to be staged in Pozarevac on 9 May. Many citizens wanted to come to that rally to manifest their disagreement with drastic violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms (guaranteed under the Serbian Constitution, but the latter currently seems to serve only one purpose: the protection of political and personal interests of the ruling clique). However the Serbian regime not only thinks that judges cannot exercise the right to "freedom of conscience, thinking and public expression of their line of thinking," the one guaranteed under the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, article 45, but also sanctions that right of judges by relieving them of their duties.

Vukasin Stanisavljevic, President of the Pozarevac Municipal Court, told the expert staff meeting of this court that his deputy, investigative judge DJordje Rankovic, after having been relieved of his duties for taking part in the 9 May opposition protests, as of June 1 was transferred to a position of a civil lawsuits judge. In fact Rankovic is not a member of any party. Considered one of the most promising jurists among Pozarevac-based dispensers of justice, with over 24 years of the judicial practice, Rankovic to date trained the majority (75%) of young and inexperienced judges working in the Pozarevac Municipal Court. After Stanisavljevic's move, on 15 May the Supreme Court President instituted proceedings for dismissal of DJordje Rankovic, investigative judge of the Pozarevac Municipal Court.

Similar was the case of Miroslav Todorovic, a senior judge of the District Court in Belgrade. Miroslav Todorovic was handed a decision on procedure for his dismissal signed by Balsa Govedarica, President of the Supreme Court of Serbia and decision on his suspension (despite proceedings in progress) signed by Bogoje Marjanovic, President of the District Court in Belgrade.

The reasoned opinion in writing of the Supreme Court President, attached to the aforementioned decision, stated that judge Todorovic "ignored legal authorisations" of the District Court President by refusing to take on duties of a member of the second-instance trial chamber, that "he subordinated his judicial duties to his political goals" and that "he acted in public as a member of presidency of so-called "Otpor" organisation", although he was aware that the said organisation was not officially registered and that its political activities aimed at overthrowing the state authorities." (Glas javnosti, 15 June 2000)

As the banned Association of Judges could not issue a communique condemning such developments, 13 judges (mostly members of the aforementioned association) from different courts on 17 June in an open letter expressed their resentment of and concern over the regime's moves. Here are some most important excerpts from that letter: "It is dangerous to characterise any public comment of a judge as his struggle to attain his/her political goals. Who considers dangerous and incompatible judges fighting for non-political goals, goals related to human rights, which are much older than any state, and which the state cannot take away from anybody? ...Why the top judicial authorities do not react to frequent statements of high officials who in their speeches often beforehand convict persons being tried for criminal offences before the Serbian courts, disclose details which should not be divulged during the preliminary investigative stage. The legal principle that 'everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law' is a civilised achievement, blatantly disregarded in the aforementioned cases, because some politicians have taken on the role of court." Letter was signed by Leposava Karamarkovic, judge of the Supreme Court of Serbia, Jelisaveta Vasilic, judge of the Higher Commercial Court in Belgrade, Vida Petrovic-Skero, Radmila Dragicevic-Dicic, Ivan Bajazit, Dusan Slijepcevic, Neda Antonic, Goran Cavlina, Ravijojla Kastratovic-judges of the Belgrade District Court, Gordana Mihajlovic, Mirjana Pavlovic, Sanja Lekic and Vlasta Jankovic-judges of the Fifth Municipal Court in Belgrade (Glas javnosti, 17 June 2000)

A month later the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, at its session held on 12 July, decided that the following judges be relieved of their duties: Miroslav Todorovic, the Belgrade District Court, all 13 judges, parties to the aforementioned letter, Bosko Papovic, judge of the Pozarevac District Court, DJordje Rankovic, judge of the Pozarevac Municipal Court, Jovan Stanojevic, Public Prosecutor of the Pozarevac District Court and DJuro Pilipovic, President of the Novi Sad Municipal Court.

The reasoned opinion in writing attached to the proposal for dismissal of judge Todorovic, read: "as a member of Presidency of so-called "Otpor" organisation, he made public statements, although he was aware that the organisation was not registered and also of its activities aimed at overthrowing the state authorities." The decision on dismissal of 13 judges-signatories of the aforementioned letter was thus justified: "the group opted for taking an illegal and partisan course of action within the judicial system, that is, sided with the incriminated judges." Judge DJordje Rankovic was relived of duties because "he took part in the opposition-staged rally in Pozarevac and after the rally, conducted investigation into the arson incident in the SRM premises." Judge Bosko Papovic was dismissed for "having repeatedly challenged in the public information media the legality of decision of the Pozarevac District Court on resumption of investigation and detention of the accused." Jovan Stanojevic was dismissed for "having engaged in private entrepreneurship and in other profit-making business."


4. Case of judge Simeunovic

On 7 November it was reported that Nebojsa Simeunovic, investigative judge of the Belgrade District Court went missing. The police search to date has not yielded any result. Judge's disappearance caused much concern of the general public, in view of his title and prominence. Body of judge Simeunovic was found on 3 December 2000 on the right bank of Danube, in front of Hotel "Yugoslavia." The exact cause of his death has not been established.

Speculations are rampant: some say that the judge has committed suicide and some maintain that he was killed by the State Security agents. In recent years judge Simeunovic handled delicate investigations for the regime. Many of them were ultimately deadended. He was tasked with investigations of murder of Radovan Stojcic Badzac, the Serbian Interior Minister, and murder of Pavle Bulatovic, the FRY Defence Secretary. He probably gathered a lot of 'delicate' evidence about which he had to keep silent.

The last job with which he was tasked by the regime was detention and investigation of the strike of 11 "Kolubara" miners. He had to establish beyond reasonable doubt that they were accomplices in commission of criminal offence of sabotage and misused right to strike, and that Nebojsa Covic and Boris Tadic, the two top DOS leaders, helped them commit that offence. Judge Simeunovic refused to take that case

Judging by the then circumstances once can conclude that judge Simeunovic was the victim of former regime. He was under great pressure after his refusal to determine detention for the accused. He told his friends that he was under constant threat, but did not divulge details, fearing for their safety.

Disappearance of judge Simeunovic and his death, like some other similar, unsolved cases, caused concern and insecurity among public at large, who also grew mistrustful of state bodies. The question is raised whether the State Security Services are at all interested in this case, as in the late 2000 only forensic findings were made public (death by drowning). Unsolved murders of journalist Slavko Curuvija, disappearance of former top politician Ivan Stambolic, and many similar cases, gave rise to various speculations and much concern. Due to inadequate responses of competent bodies there is much concern that other judges, knowledgeable about the police and State Security work, might become next victims.


5. Fair trial and rights of detainees

Mechanisms for implementation of principles of legal state and independent judiciary were controlled by the political-police structures. Censorship and auto-censorship of the judiciary and the Prosecution in particularly, led to drastic misuses and blatant breaches of human rights and freedoms, formally guaranteed by domestic legislation and international documents.

Right to a fair trial, envisaged under the Universal Declaration (signed by all the countries in the world) and made concrete by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Yugoslavia, covers several basic principles and rights: the right to freedom, the right to respect for human dignity, the right of detainees to information, the right to detainees to have contact with the external world, the right to a speedy trial, the right to a legal remedy to establish legality of detention measure, the right to trail within a reasonable time frame or release from detention, the right to adequate time for the preparation of defence, the right to a fair interrogation, the right to human conditions of detention and ban of torture, the right to a fair and public hearing, presumption of innocence, the right to have charge assistance of an interpreter, the right to appeal, etc.

Although the aforementioned principles are by and large envisaged by the federal and republican constitutions, their concretisation through laws and minor acts was essentially relativised, and in some cases their enforcement was not even foreseen except on the theoretical plane. An additional problem is a politically directed, selective enforcement of legal provisions in practice.

The most blatant violations of the right to fail trail were reported in the criminal and misdemeanour proceedings against political opponents, Kosovar Albanians and media, that is, journalists. It also bears stressing that violations of the right to a fair trial, notably in the pre-trial proceedings, were frequent in political cases.


6. Police torture, harassment and misuses

Idea of the rule of law and the one of division of power in the executive, the judiciary and the legislature (providing for a three-way control and restriction of the said branches and placing institutional obstacles to absolute power) totally collapsed in Serbia. Character of the state in which all segments of state and society were subordinated to interests of the ruling structures, along with continual and ruthless law- and constitution-breaking, is clearly mirrored in the conduct of the police, as a service "protecting security of the state and its citizens." In fact in Serbia the police was used for protecting the regime from politically 'incompatible' citizens instead of fighting against crimes and protecting laws. The lead role in protection of the regime was taken on by the State Security Service, which in execution of their tasks often resorted to illegal means.

Causes of poor situation in this area were the following: predominance of party interests over interests of legal state and interests of its citizens and intentional disharmony between many segments of the legal system in place. Although the federal and republican constitutions were adopted 9 years ago, some key laws are yet to be brought into harmony with them. : For example the Act on Criminal Proceedings (ACP), regulating among other things, the police rights, obligations and authority, adopted 27 years ago, while the 1974 Constitution was in place, is yet to be amended in the aforementioned segment. In fact many legal provisions in place suspend or relativise constitutional provisions regulating protection of human and civil rights and freedoms. The same holds true of many sub-legal decrees. The aforementioned disharmony additionally hinders lawful and regular police work.

In view of the nature of pre-trail proceedings, police is an exclusive violator of the right to a fair trial in that legal stage. Spectrum of violations of human rights by the police is very broad. Although an average citizen of Serbia has no awareness of the aforementioned, his rights are violated by usually arrogant and unkind conduct of the police. Obviously the police engage in much more serious violations of fundamental rights and freedoms, in the areas of arrest, the right to information and defence, extortion of evidence, the right to dignity and secrecy.

a. Arrest and detention

The fundamental right of police to effect arrest and detention of citizens is most frequently violated and misused. As personal liberty is internationally viewed as the protected right, the issue of arrest is the subject of key international conventions. The stance that "no-one may be arbitrarily arrested and detained" is spelled out by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (Article 9) and the Pact on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 9-11).

Constitution of the FRY and Constitution of the Republic of Serbia in parts related to "Freedoms, rights and duties of citizens" almost identically foresee that "everyone has the right to liberty and security of person." and that "no-one can be arrested or detained unless in cases or under procedure prescribed by the federal laws. Unlawful detention is punishable." (Article 23 of the FRY Constitution and Article 15 of the RS Constitution). Differences and disharmony between the two constitutions lies in the following: "unlawful detention or arrest is not punishable" (the RS Constitution)

"A person reasonably believed to have committed a criminal offence may be, after conviction by a competent court, detained only if this measure is required to secure the fulfilment of any obligation prescribed by law." (Article 24 the FRY Constitution and Article 16 of the RS Constitution)

The aforesaid provisions indicate that any detention by the police, which is not based on a conviction by a competent court, shall represent a violation of the constitutional provisions. However the very Federal Act on Criminal Proceedings (FACP) includes an anti-constitutional provision, namely "detention may determined by a police body before investigation, if it serves the purpose of alibi checking or the one of collecting evidence against a certain person...or if there is a reasonable doubt that a person shall destroy traces of a criminal offence," that is "a police body may determine detention if the investigative judge tasked that body with conducting some investigative actions pursuant to Article 162, paragraph 4 of the Act on Criminal Proceedings." Detention determined by a police body can last up to three days, from the day of detention/arrest (Article 196, paragraph 1,2 and 3 of the Criminal Proceedings Act.)

Added to cases of detention foreseen under the ACP, the Interior Ministry may arrest, that is, detain persons in other two instances envisaged by the Act on Internal Affairs of the Republic of Serbia: 1) the police may detain a person who disturbs public order and peace and thus threatens security of other citizens or defence and security of the republic, if re-establishment of public peace and order and removal of threat to security of the republic and citizens and defence of the republic cannot be otherwise achieved; 2) under conditions from paragraph 1 of this article a person can be detained for the identity check, if his or her identity cannot be verified through on-the-spot check of ID card or other relevant documents. Detention can last up to 24 hours.

Authorised police officials are duty-bound to read to a detainee his or her rights and inform him of the reasons for his/her arrest/detention, and to notify, if possible the family of detainee of his or her detention (article 11). The aforementioned provisions are contrary to constitutional regulations, since the provision of Article 23, paragraph 2 of the FRY constitution spells out that the following : "only the federal law can prescribe conditions and procedure of detention."

Numerous are cases of unlawful detention by the police. In the past ten years extra-constitutional, so-called police detention, on the basis of Article 196 of the ACP, became a widespread phenomenon. The same applied to non-notification of detainees of their rights and reasons of their detention. Most abuses in the area of arrests and detentions were related to members of "Otpor" organisation and members of the opposition political parties. Research findings indicated that in mid-May-mid-September 2000 period 2,000 "Otpor" members, 400 opposition parties members and followers and over 100 NGO activists were detained. They were mostly detained on grounds of their political, anti-regime actions, such as the poster-affixing, distribution of propaganda material, public criticism of authorities, and wearing of "Otpor" badges and T-shirts. Harassment of "Otpor" members began after its registration application was turned down by the Federal Justice Ministry on 9 June 2000. This decision was thus justified: "it is a well-known fact that members of the applicant ("Otpor") for quite some time now have been taking unlawful actions, for example, staging of public rallies at which citizens are encouraged to rebel and overthrow the constitutional order." Such an attitude of the top political leadership gave free hand to the police to question, detain, interview, search, seize their belongings and open dossiers of individuals who were not even officially incriminated or indicted."

Zoran Milovanovic and Ivan Jevremovic, "Otpor" activists, were detained on 28 May 2000 and taken to the Pozarevac police station. They were interrogated 12 hours. There they were told that they were detained because of their "Otpor" membership and for having with them copies of Banja Luka weekly "Reporter." They were released without being previously given any detention certificate.

Predrag Madzarevic and Milos Mihajlovic from Kragujevac, "Otpor" activists, were arrested on 28 August 2000 in downtown Kragujevac. During six-hour long interrogation the police asked them about meaning of slogans "He is finished" and "Time is up" and financiers of "Otpor" movement. After opening their dossiers, taking their fingerprints and photographs, the police released them, but failed to give them any detention certificate.

On 30 July the Novi Sad police arrested 14 "Otpor" members in the middle of their action "Sculpting fists" at the Strand beach. Three policemen interrupted the action, and detained its participants and some journalists. Marija Kleut, Professor of the Philosophical Faculty in Novi Sad stated that she was detained in her bathing costume, for she was not allowed to change into normal clothes and take her ID. All detainees were taken to the provincial police headquarters and were interrogated. They were told that they would be prosecuted for wearing "Otpor" T-shirts, participation in an unregistered rally and for being members of an unregistered organisation. They were all released after their files were opened.

Six years after the first initiative for the assessment of constitutionality of provisions of Article 191, paragraph 2, point 3 and 4, article 196, article 210, paragraph 1 and article 417, paragraph 2 of the Act on Criminal Proceedings, the Federal Constitutional Court determined on 7 December 2000 that contested provisions were contrary to the FRY Constitution (that decision was published in the Official Gazette of the FRY on 22 December 2000)

b. Right to information

The Pact on Civil and Political Rights in its article 9 foresees the obligation that "everyone who is arrested shall be informed promptly, in language he understands, of the reasons for his and of any charge him." Disharmony between legal acts of domestic legislation in this area is in fact a proof of intentional legal inconsistency. In other words the Federal Constitution has been brought into harmony with this provision of the Pact, for it foresees that any detainee or arrestee must be immediately inoformed in his language or in the language he understands, of the reasons for his, and that any such detainee or arrestee must demand that the police notify his or her family of his or her arrest or detention (the FRY Constitution, article 23). The Federal Act on Criminal Proceedings in this respect has not been brought into harmony with the Federal Constitution, for it lays down that "the police or court are duty-bound to notify the family of the arrestee of his or her arrest within 24 hours." (Article 200) However the republican Act on Internal Affairs has a non-binding norm, under which the police or court are "duty bound to immediately notify the arrestee's family, of his or her arrest, if possible." (Article 11). Such a general norm leaves room for arbitrary actions. It cannot be said that this provision is contrary to the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, since that Constitution does not imply the obligation that the arrestee' s family be notified of his or her arrest.

Miodrag Isakov, President of the Reform Party of Vojvodina and federal MP, and Petar Petrovic, member of Vojvodina Presidency, were stopped by the police at the Subotica-Novi sad toll station on 28 August 2000. After checking their IDs, the police took them to the provincial police headquarters, and interrogated them for three hours without telling them why they were detained.

c. Right to defence

Article 23 of the FRY Constitution lays down that "an arrestee must be notified of his or her right to remain silent and of his or her right to have legal assistance of his own choosing." Article 29, paragraph 1 of the FRY Constitution lays down: "Everyone is entitled to have a legal assistance before a court or any other body competent for conducting proceedings." The RS Constitution in principle reiterates this provision in Article 24, but does not envisage the elementary right of an arrestee to be notified of his or her right to remain silent." The Act on Criminal Proceedings and the Act on Internal Affairs deprives detainees and arrestees of this right. The ACP accords this right once the proceedings are instituted, or indictment or private criminal charges filed. Accordingly, under the ACP in the pre-trial proceedings detainees or arrestees don't' have the right to remain silent (contrary to the federal constitutional provisions)

The ACP lays down that the accused must be notified before the first interrogation/hearing of his to have legal assistance/ a defence counsel of his own choosing, who is in turn allowed to be present at such interrogation. If necessary the investigative judge may help him find a defence counsel (Article 67, 183 and 193). This accords to citizens the right to personal and professional defence during the court proceedings. However the ACP does not mention the right of the accused to hire a defence counsel in the pre-trial, so-called police proceedings. Hence the police can interrogate for three days "a person detained by the police under Article 196 of the ACP or Article 11 of the AIA" in absence of his or her counsel three days. Omission of provision on the right of citizens to hire a defence counsel in the pre-trial proceedings under the ACP and AIA violates the constitutionally guaranteed right to professional defence "before the other body authorised to conduct proceedings."

Before the opposition rally in Sabac on 19 May 2000, N.V, a third-grader of the Agricultural school, was detained for wearing an "Otpor" T-shirt. On the way to the police station policemen searched his satchel, browsed through all his books and notebooks. In the police station they took his fingerprints and photographs and put his name on file. They also interrogated him about the origins of his "Otpor" badge and asked him whom he was instructed to kill, although he was told that he was not arrested and that he did not need a lawyer.

Sasa Nastic and Ruzica Karajlic, members of the Municipal Committee of the Social Democracy Party in Rakovica and two members of the Democratic Party were arrested on 28 August 2000, while collecting signatures for the presidential candidacy of Vojislav Kostunica, and taken to the Rakovica police station. Lawyers hired by the Social Democracy Party went immediately to the police station. But the police did not allow them contacts with their clients and declined to inform them of the reasons for their clients arrest.

d. Confessions extracted under torture or duress

Universal Declaration on Human Rights (Article 5) and the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 7) lays down: "No-one can be subjected to torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment. No-one can be involuntarily subjected to medical or scientific experiments." Article 10 of the Pact also adds: "Every arrestee must be treated in a humane and dignified way."

Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (in further text: Convention) considers as a torture "every act intentionally inflicting pain or grave bodily or psychological suffering in order to extract confessions, admissions or information from a third person, or to punish that person for the act committed by her or him, or by a third person, with whose commission that person was charged, to intimidate that person, or pile pressure on her or him, if that pain or suffering is inflicted by an official or any other person acting in line of duty or being instigated by that person or with tacit or express consent of that person" (Article 1)

Convention also spells out that "every state, a party to the convention, shall take legal, administrative and other successful measures to prevent commission of acts of torture in the territory under its jurisdiction." (Article 1)

The FRY Constitution guarantees "respect for human personality and dignity in criminal and all other proceedings, in case of arrest or detention or during the length of prison sentence. Any violence against an arrestee or detainee, as well as any attempt to extract confessions or statements is prohibited and punishable. No-one can be subjected to torture, degrading treatment or punishment" (Article 25) Interestingly enough the Serbian Constitution in a similar provision omits to specify that it is prohibited to extract confessions. Added to that the Act on Criminal Proceedings and other legal and sub-legal acts regulating the police conduct do not comprise provisions expressly prohibiting torture or other inhumane treatment. The ACP comprises a principled provision determining that "it is prohibited and punishable to extract confession or any other statement from the accused of any other person under criminal investigation" (Article 10), but this part is primarily related to court proceedings.

The Act on Internal Affairs of Serbia and The Rules of Procedure of the Public Security Services comprise very general provisions laying down that "a police official is entitled to use coercion means established by law to prevent the escape of detainees or murder suspects, of persons caught in flagrante delicto, to subdue offenders resisting arrest or detention..." (Article 1, paragraph 1, Rules of Procedure), that is, "an authorised official person uses minimum coercion means against a detainee or arrestee only while there are reasons for their use, under Article 1, paragraph 1" (Article 2 of Rules of Procedure), and "while using coercion means an authorised official must try to protect life and dignity of arrestees or detainees" (Article 3, Rules of Procedure). Rules of Procedure also instruct and duty-bound all policemen to treat officially and decently all citizens and to fully respect their human and civil rights.

At December 11 press conference seven "Otpor" activists from Vladicin Han stated that they were beaten up in a police station, on orders of a policeman who had checked their IDs previous days. According to them, they underwent "a standard procedure" in a police station and were consequently released. Vladica Mircic, "Otpor" activists and President of Democratic Youth in Vladicin Han, stated: "On leaving that police station we were stopped by Head of Police, Radivoje Stoimenovic, inspector Goran Markovic, and police official Goran Trajkovic. "They were drunk, after having took part in the Vladicin Han Day of Liberation revelry. When Stoimenovic saw my T-shirt with "Changes" letters, he ordered us to go to his office. There they started us kicking us and beating us with batons and fists. One activists sustained grave testis injuries, one sustained neck injuries after attempts to strangle him with a rope and the third was hanged high and beaten until he fainted. Later they ordered us to stand like skiers, and if we dropped our hands, they started beat us. They kept yelling: "You know who we are. We have the authority to kill you and to take your bodies to Konculj near the Kosovo border, so that we can say that you have been gunned down while trying to illegally cross border." They cursed us, humiliated us and called us fascists." Mircic had visible bruises on his face, while other activists had neck bruises and their bodies were sore. According to Mircic they were released after three hours of torture only when their parents, citizens and DOS officials gathered to protest in front of the police station.

While affixing DOS posters on 10 August 2000, Dragan Radonjic, Drazen Backo and brothers Lazarevic were interrupted in their action by the police and taken to the Backa Palanka police station. Without giving them any explanation for their detention, policemen took them to a room and forced them to stand facing the fall for three hours. After that torture they were interrogated by Inspector Steva Milosavljevic. He inquired about origins of "Otpor" posters and names of DOS officials. Later they were taken to a dark cell, where policemen continued to beat them. They were released after seven hours without the detention certificate.

Deputy Commander of Lajkovac police station, Ilija Kruskonja, roughed up Milo Milic, detained on 3 September for affixing "He is finished"-Otpor posters over posters with Slobodan Milosevic image. Kruskonja was later treated for grave bodily injuries in the surgical ward of Valjevo hospital.

On September 2, 2000 Novi Sad activists of "Otpor" Nenad Sugaljev and Davor Arsic, only several hours after being released from detention, were detained once again for affixing DOS posters. Nenad Sugaljev stated that they were physically and psychologically maltreated. After seeing that Sugaljev was born in Zagreb, policemen kept calling him-Ustashi.

Zineta Nikolic was harassed by the police on national grounds. Zineta is a refugee from Lukavac, a Muslim (Bosniak), who has been living with her family for eight years in Novi Sad. "On 1 May we had guests. As we celebrated that day we played the music loud. My neighbours Brkic, who have been harassing me for years on grounds of my Muslim origins, called the police. Policemen came around 22 hours and told me to lower the volume. Then around 23.30 they came again, to take me, a Muslim to a police station. They explicitly stated that they were not interested in my Montenegrin husband. After insulting and harassing me they first took me to a police station in Kraljevica Marka street and then to a police station in Sajkaska street. There a policeman called me names, called me "a dirty Muslim" and beat me up until I fainted. Then I was taken again to a police station in Kraljevica Marka street and placed in a solitary and cold cell. I spent the night there without water and my medicines. The following morning they released me without telling me why they had detained me in the first place. Then I went to see my doctor who told me that I had the right eye and nose contusions, and big bruises on my head. The following day I went to see commander of police station in Sajkaska street. He was kind, but he told me they had no certificate on my night confinement. Neither the police nor the misdemeanour judge instituted any proceedings against me.

Although our criminal legislation code does not envisage torture as a special criminal offence, the Penal Code of the Republic of Serbia includes two criminal offences sanctioning treatment with elements of torture: confession extracting in Article 65 ("an official who uses force or threat or any other impermissible means or in an impermissible manner, intending to extract confession or other statement from a suspect, indictee, witness, forensic expert or other person..."); and misuse of duty and official authority in Article 66 (" an official who in the line of duty harasses, insults or degrades dignity of an individual...".) Similar criminal offences related to officials working in the federal bodies are envisaged by the FRY Penal Code.

Despite the fact that the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment duty-binds all the states, parties to the Convention, to the following "information about and familiarisation with the ban on torture must be an integral part of education of civilian and military personnel tasked with law-enforcement and of other persons who can in any way take part in keeping or interrogating some arrestees, detainees or convicts" and to the following: "every state, party to the Convention, must include the aforementioned ban in specific rules or instructions on obligations and duties of such personnel" (Article 10), legislation of Serbia has not obviously honoured that commitment.

In the course of the year 2000 many cases of misuse of official duties, involving cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment, were reported. The police in fact often resorted to different forms of torture to extract confessions, statements or information, as torture was the easiest way for finding or gathering evidence. It is customary to coerce a person detained without a prior court order, notably if that detainee already has a criminal record, to confess offences with which he or she was charged. As detainees are often tortured for three days, without any contacts with their families and deprived of medical care, in order to stop that torture they often confess commission of criminal offences with which they are charged. If one has in mind the fact that detainees are not accorded the right to silence, then testimony giving becomes a necessity and rule. Although Article 83 and 160 of the Law on Criminal Proceedings specify that a judicial ruling must not be based on a testimony, that is a confession, given in the pre-trial proceedings, that fact was not relevant for the police work, as they considered their work completed once the criminal case was submitted to the public prosecutor.

The second reason for the inhumane treatment of detainees by the police lies in a low cultural level and ignorance of basic precepts of human rights, that is, in the belief of policemen, that they are above the law, and that they shall not be held accountable for their actions and conduct, but shall be in fact praised for the "efficient solving of the case."

Factual and normative violations of the Convention's provisions, to whose respect we are duty-bound by ratification, exacts bringing into harmony normative acts and undertaking other measures leading to improvement of the current situation, including a comprehensive program of education of the police force.

e. Search of home and persons

Article 12 of Universal Declaration on Human Rights enshrines the right to protection from arbitrary interference in private life, family life, home and correspondence, and unlawful attacks on personal honour and reputation."

Article 31 of the FRY Constitution lays down "inviolability of home" and that a federal law can prescribe that "an official, on the basis of a court order, can enter a home or other living premises against the will of a home or premises owner and search that home or premises." Search is effected in presence of two witnesses. Also "a police official can enter a home or living premises without a court order and effect search thereof in absence of witnesses, if it is necessary, in order to save human lives or property, in the manner envisaged by the federal law." Similar provision is included in the Serbian Constitution, Article 21.

Search is ordered by a court order in writing. A search warrant is first handed to a person whose home shall be searched or who shall be searched. Before search a plea should be made that the wanted person or object be handed over voluntarily.

Search can be launched before handing the search order, or before the aforementioned plea is made, if there is a possibility of armed resistance or if it is necessary to effect search immediately or suddenly, and if public premises are to be searched. (Article 207, paragraph 1,2 and 3 of the Act on Criminal Proceedings.)"

Search of home or a person is witnessed by two adult persons. A woman is searched by a female officer, in presence of female officers only. Prior to search witnesses may be told to carefully monitor that process, and informed of their right to voice their objections to the wording of the search report, if they have any, and prior to signing that report (Article 208, the Act on Criminal Proceedings).

Authorised officials of the Interior Ministry can enter somebody's home or other living premises without a court order and effect search if the owner of a home or other living premises wants that, if there is a distress call, if it necessary to catch an offender in flagrante delicto for the sake of safety of people and home, if in that home or in another premise there is a person against whom an arrest warrant was issued, and who had hid in that home, and if evidence cannot be ensured otherwise. (Article 210, paragraph 1)

Search may be carried out even before witnesses, if their presence cannot be ensured, and there is a danger of delay. Reasons for search without witnesses must be specified in the search report. (Article 210, paragraph 3 of the Act on Criminal Proceedings)

Although the ACP foresees different grounds, manners and conditions of search, all of which should reduce the possibility of misuse of the search authority, nonetheless a large number of instances in which the police has the right to effect search without a court order has been specified. Some imprecise provisions (" if necessary effect a search immediately and suddenly,)" ("for the sake of security of people and property,") and (" if evidence cannot be ensured otherwise,") facilitate arbitrary police conduct. In highly developed democracies vesting the police in special discretionary rights is not problematic. However in the countries renowned for their low human rights record, discretionary police rights are continually misused.

Novica Stankovic, a teacher in primary school "Aca Aleksic" in village Ples in the vicinity of Aleksandrovac was detained on 13 September 2000 and taken for questioning. Three uniformed policemen broke into his class and in front of his pupils told him to come with them. The police put his name and names of his daughters Ana (17) and Bojana (18) and his wife Evica Stankovic on record. Shortly afterwards the police searched his flat without warrant and seized several "Otpor" posters.

The police in Vrbas on 15 May 2000 searched homes of "Otpor" activists, Dejan Minic, Branko Erakovic and Miroslav Ujfalusi. However they were not handed search warrants, nor witnesses were allowed on the spot. The police did not even give them a search certificate. All materials related to "Otpor" activities were seized. After search activists were taken to the police station for photograph-taking. Misdemeanour proceedings were instituted against all of them.

The Federal Constitutional Court assessed provision of Article 210, paragraph 1 of the Act on Criminal Proceedings unconstitutional at its 7 December 2000 session.

f. Secrecy of correspondence

Constitutions of Serbia and Yugoslavia lay done that "secrecy of correspondence and other communications is inviolable. Federal that is republican laws can prescribe that "on the basis of court order the principle of secrecy of correspondence can be violated if it is necessary for instituting criminal proceedings or for the sake of the FRY defence." (Article 32, the FRY Constitution and Article 19 of the Serbian Constitution)

The Act on Internal Affairs of the Republic of Serbia lays down that "if the nature of criminal proceedings or the security or defence of the Republic so require, at the request of the Republican Public Prosecutor, that is a minister, the Supreme Court can rule on deviations from the principle of secrecy of correspondence and other means of communication. "On the basis of paragraph 1 of this article a minister determines the extent of deviation from the principle of inviolability (article 13, paragraphs 1 and 3). Thus broadly defined provision leaves plenty of room for manipulation. The basic reason for the aforementioned violations were trailing and surveillance of political opponents and other citizens, notably those politically "incompatible" ones. But in practice courts of law and the prosecution were rarely "used" for attaining that goal. In other words the Federal Act on Basic Guidelines of State Security, still in force, determines that "an official managing the state security affairs may rule on measures to be taken against some persons and organisations, which in fact represent deviations from the principle of secrecy of correspondence. (Article 24)" This provision simplifies the entire procedure, for judicial bodies are excluded from its "delicate facets." Moreover it accelerates the proceedings as they can be instituted by a decision of an authorised official. General public has never been made aware of the mechanism or the scope of limitation of rights to secrecy of correspondence But it is a well-known fact that thousands of phones were tapped and that mail, notably letters sent abroad, were opened and monitored.

The aforementioned provision of the Act on Basic Guidelines of the State Security, adopted in 1984, was obviously unconstitutional at the time of promulgation of the 1992 FRY Constitution. But that provision was not repealed during Milosevic's mandate for it suited interests of the political oligarchy. Only eight years on, the Federal Constitutional Court suspended that provision (decision IU no. 172/94), as made public in the "Official Gazette of the FRY" on 7 April 2000. However widespread tapping continued until Milosevic's ouster on 5 October 2000. According to some information, some 'untransformed" State Security Services continued their tapping activities even after October 5.

It bears stressing that concrete criminal offences directed against freedoms and rights of citizens, are defined by the Constitution and specified under the FRY Penal Code, in the chapter titled "Criminal Offences against the Line of Duty of Officials of Federal Bodies or Federal Organisations" and in the Penal Code of the Republic of Serbia, in the chapter titled "Criminal Offences against Human and Civil Rights and Freedoms." The latter considers as criminal offences against proclaimed rights and freedoms, the following: breach of inviolability of living premises/flat (article 68), unlawful search (article 69), unauthorised tapping and audio recording (article 70), breach of secrecy of correspondence (article 72). Although this segment provides for legal protection of human rights , it could not be enforced fully for unauthorised tapping was still 'lawful' under article 24 of the Act on Guidelines of the State Security System."

Bojan Aleksov, activist of the project "Safe House" and collaborator of NGO "Women in Black" was arrested on 7 July 2000 for actively helping Yugoslav citizens, draft-dodgers, who had fled to Hungary during the NATO air strikes. His car was stopped about 20.00 p. m. and he was forcibly taken to the New Belgrade police station. He was released on 8 July at noon. After analysing the police questions Aleksov concluded that the State Security tapped all phone conversations in "Women in Black" offices and even homes for minimum two years. Police compelled Aleksov to sign a confession, dictated by the inspector, in which he described in detail all his activities and confessed his "guilt." In that 'confession' extracted under duress Aleksov admitted to sending all available facts and figures to foreign intelligence services, and to voluntarily engaging in activities against security, integrity and defence of the FRY. In his second 'confession' in writing Aleksov accepted to work for the State Security Services, "to the point of endangering his own life." He was also harassed on grounds of his homosexuality. He had to stand still for five hours, while policemen beat him up with batons, he was not given water throughout interrogation (and temperature was well above 30 degrees Centigrade) and was subjected to sleep deprivation. The following morning they beat him with batons on his feet, palms and kidneys. After his release and repeated death threats Aleksov immediately left the country.


8. Trials with political background

a. Violation of the right to a fair trial

The regime continued to detain, pressure, intimidate and harass its opponents and moreover started staging sometimes marathon and sometimes summary criminal proceedings and trials against them. Journalists, lawyers, writers, former security services agents, leaders and members of the opposition parties, bore the brunt of the regime's repression, by standing trial on trumped-up charges. As the circle of "enemies" continued to expand, the authorities grew more panicky. Here are some examples of the paranoid responses of the regime:

On February 24, 2000 the Third Municipal Prosecutor's Office in Belgrade filed charges with the Third Municipal Court against the New Democracy President, Dusan Mihajlovic. Namely Mihajlovic was accused of "spreading false news and misinformation in the Studio B program 'We are to blame,' broadcast on 22 February. But it was not precisely indicated which statement of Mihajlovic the Prosecutor's Office assessed as libellous. No further information about this case has been disclosed.

Zoran Paunovic, the Serbian Renewal Movement municipal MP and spokesman in Kragujevac was taken to the municipal misdemeanour judge on 29 February 2000 on the basis of the police report written n 26 May 1999. The police demanded that Paunovic be severely punished for "being spotted during the war at an unregistered, downtown rally, while directing the crowd by special gestures and even yelling: 'Where are the people, we should move on.'" The police considered this "a grave offence committed during a state of war" and reasonably believed that "he would repeat that offence." (Vecernje novosti, 3 March 2000)

Before the First Municipal Court in Belgrade legal counsels of a group of opposition leaders on 13 March 2000 rebutted defamation charge against their clients. Milovan Bojic, Serbian Vice Prime Minister, took a libel action against the said group for "having staged his symbolic trial at the 22 September 1999 Alliance for Changes rally, which found him guilty of a catastrophic state of health system." Bojic who is also a high official of the Associated Yugoslav Left alleged that the improptu trial damaged his high professional reputation and demanded a 10 million dinar compensation. He took to court prominent opposition leaders, notably, Zoran DJindjic, Milan St. Protic, Dragan Milovanovic, Vladan Batic, Goran Svilanovic and Vuk Obradovic. The trial started on 7 October, but several subsequent hearings were postponed due to irregular summons or no-show of defence counsels. (Danas 14 March 2000)

"The Serbian Renawal Movement was fined 5 million dinars as a compensation for libel of Mirko Marjanovic, the Serbian Prime Minister and former director of "Progres" company. The trial before the First Municipal Court in Belgrade began in 1994, according to the SRM communique. Marjanovic sued the party for "its press release replete with allegations of mismanagement and financial wrongdoing tarnished the company's reputation. The fine was meted out despite the Supreme Court position that legal persons could not feel psychological pain. (Danas, 14 April 2000)

Veroljub Cvetkovic, Presiding judge of the Zajecar District Court Chamber, on 9 June sentenced Boban Miletic-Bapsi, author or aphorisms, to five month's imprisonment for ridiculing Slobodan Milosevic, the FRY President. On 18 December 1999, at the promotion of this book "Serbia, mother, cry!" in the Knjazevac Cultural Centre, Miletic read several aphorisms, which in the court's opinion, derided the country and its President. Miletic was also sentenced to 5 months in prison for having distributed to those in attendance 70 copies of his book after the promotion ceremony. The court also ruled that 31 copies of his book be seized; that prison sentence included 15 days which Miletic had spent in detention. (Glas javnosti 10 June 2000)

Vlastimir Nikolic, former State Security agent was arrested (to put it more precisely-abducted) on 1 October 1999 while taking this 12-yer old son to school. A hood was thrown over his head and he was handcuffed. His family was kept in the dark about his whereabouts for days. On 4 October 1999 several policemen forced their way into the flat of family Nikolic and searched it. No suspicious objects were found on that occasion. Five days after his arrest Nikolic was taken before the investigative judge of the Belgrade District Court, who after interrogation sentenced him to detention as of 2 October 1999, the day on which Nikolic was arrested. Although Nikolic was tried on charges of "spreading false news and misinformation" (Article 218 of the Penal Code of Serbia), indictment was changed to include " a criminal offence of divulging state (cum)official secrets under article 129 of the Penal Code of Yugoslavia and article 249 of the Penal Code of Serbia. This is legally untenable for the criminal offence of divulging official secrets is incompatible with the existence of the criminal offence of spreading false news. Dr. Branka Nikolic, the indictee's wife, reiterated that the whole family was intimidated and harassed, she was tailed and her patients searched and asked to produce their IDs.

On 3 March 2000 Judge Pavle Vukasinovic, President of the District Court sentenced (K. no. 502/99) Nikolic to one year and nine months in prison for commission of the criminal offence of divulging of state secrets (article 129, paragraph 3 related to paragraph 1 of the Penal Code of Serbia), divulging of official secrets (article 249, paragraph 1 of the Penal Code of Serbia), and unauthorised possession of arms (article 33, paragraph 1 of the Act on Weapons and Ammunition of the Republic of Serbia). As the proceedings were conducted behind the closed door, the sentence itself has never been made public or its reasoned opinion in writing disclosed. Moreover director of prison had to greenlight every visit of Dr. Branka Nikolic and Nikolic's lawyers to prison and every conversation was witnessed by a prison official. The Supreme Court of Serbia reviewed Nikolic's prison sentence on 27 October 2000, that is, he was sentenced to 13 months in prison. As that sentence covered the period he had spent in detention, he was immediately released.

b. Trial of Miroslav Filipovic

Miroslav Filipovic, Danas and "France Press" correspondent was the first journalist to be criminally prosecuted, convicted and fined for his articles. Filipovic was arrested in his flat in Kraljevo on 8 May 2000 and sentenced by the District Court to a month in detention. The Criminal Chamber of the Kraljevo District Court ruled on 10 May that Miroslav Filipovic be tried by the Nis Military Court. The Nis Military Court Prosecutor on 18 May ordered official investigation, and investigative judge of the same court, after 22 May hearing, officially charged Filipovic with commission of espionage under article 128 of the FRY Penal Code and commission of the criminal offence of spreading false news under article 218 of the Penal Code of the Republic of Serbia. In addition Filipovic's detention was extended for another month to "prevent his influence on witnesses and possible disturbance of general public (article 191, paragraph 2, points 2 and 4 of the Act on Criminal Proceedings). On 15 June Filipovic's detention was again extended on grounds of his possible influence on witnesses and risk of his escape (article 191, paragraph 2, points 1 and 2 of the Act on Criminal Proceedings.) After the final hearing, closed for public, on 26 July Filipovic was sentenced to 7 years in prison (5 years for espionage activities and five for spreading false news).

The court determined that "Filipovic was guilty of espionage, as he collected important defence secrets with intention of passing them onto the foreign organisations, like the British Institute for War and Peace and AFP in June 1999-May 2000 period. He collected facts and figures on territorial competences and number of soldiers in each YA unit and kept them on his hard disc." The court also established that Filipovic disclosed reliable and precise data, which should not have been sent to foreign organisations. President of Judicial Chamber, Colonel Radenko Miladinovic, while giving oral reasoned opinion, admitted that many of the aforementioned data had already been run by the media. However the court concluded that "in view of a large quantity of collected data, Filipovic undoubtedly engaged in espionage." The length of sentence (five years) was justified by "a low level of confidentiality of facts and figures divulged by Filipovic...which consequently could not gravely harm the state and the Yugoslav Army."

Three years imprisonment meted out to Filipovic for spreading false news, was, according to the court, the only adequate punishment for "lies about atrocities committed by the Yugoslav Army in Kosovo, namely alleged, haphazard shelling of Albanian villages, and wilful murder of women and children by reservists." Those untruths were divulged by Filipovic with the intention of "disturbing the general public, public order and peace and undercutting faith of citizens in competent state bodies."

Heavy sentencing





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