Inappropriate Bargaining – Compensation for Death of Only Son

BELGRADE, 22 June 2009 – The Office of the Republic Attorney General has submitted a request for revision of the Belgrade District Court’s judgement which confirmed the judgement rendered by the First Municipal Court relating to the lawsuit filed by Radmila and Dragomir Petrović from Belgrade against the Republic of Serbia. The First Municipal Court judgement had awarded Radmila and Dragomir Petrović RSD one million each in non-material damages due to psychological suffering caused by the death of their only son. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed the compensation lawsuit on behalf of Radmila and Dragomir Petrović on December 26th 2002.

The revision request contains an opinion that the amount of RSD one million for each of the injured parties is too high and in violation of the provisions of the Law of Obligations, as well as being in violation of court practice.

Dejan Petrović, the son of Radmila and Dragomir, died at the age of 29 as a consequence of serious physical injuries he sustained in police premises where he was detained in January 2002. According to the official version, this young man, who was 181 cm tall, jumped from the second floor of the Vračar Police Station (Belgrade Police Department) through a 40 x 40 cm double window with his hands cuffed behind his back. As a result of the fall he allegedly sustained injuries that led to his death a month later, even though the autopsy report speaks of superficial and internal injuries inflicted by a heavy, blunt mechanical weapon.

Because the deceased young man sustained fatal injuries on police premises, Dejan Petrović’s parents filed a lawsuit against the Republic of Serbia so that they would at least partially gain some satisfaction since they had lost their only child. HLC, therefore, finds the allegations from the revision request and the bargaining over the amount of compensation for non-material damages for the death of their son not only unfounded but also extremely inappropriate.

“We believe that the second instance judgement, which confirmed the judgement of the First Municipal Court, properly applied the substantive law and that the compensation for non-material damages awarded to the plaintiffs was assessed appropriately and in line with the law and standing court practice”, said Tanja Drobnjak, an HLC Attorney. “We believe that the reasoning presented by the sued party in the revision request contains no argument apart from the objection that the amount granted is too high and allegedly in violation of the legal provisions.”

We should especially bear in mind the fact that Dejan’s parents will most likely never learn the entire truth about what preceded his fatal injuries in the police station, even though there are numerous clues pointing to what actually happened which do not corroborate the official version of the event. This additionally intensifies the mental suffering the parents sustained because of their only son’s death. They sustained irreparable damage that cannot be measured in money. The amount granted therefore represents only partial satisfaction for the plaintiffs for all the suffering caused to them by the death of their son.