The Supreme Court of Cassation Upholds the Decision in the Dejan Petrović Compensation Lawsuit

BELGRADE – The Supreme Court of Cassation in Belgrade denied the request of the Republic of Serbia to revise a decision handed down by the District Court in Belgrade confirming the first instance decision of the First Municipal Court, which orders the Republic of Serbia to pay one million RSD in non-pecuniary damages each to Radmila and Dragomir Petrović from Belgrade for their emotional suffering caused by the death of their son, Dejan Petrović, who died on the premises of the Internal Affairs Department (OUP) of the Vračar municipality.

The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) believes that the awarded compensation amount is only a partial satisfaction to the parents of the late Dejan Petrović, considering the fact that the court procedure lasted 8 years and that an investigation aimed at establishing criminal responsibility for the death of Dejan Petrović has never been conducted.

HLC filed a criminal complaint against the Republic of Serbia on behalf of Dejan Petrović’s parents against in December 2002.

Dejan Petrović died at the age of 29 from injuries he sustained in the official premises of the OUP in Vračar, where he was held in detention in January 2002. According to the official version of the event, Dejan Petrović jumped from the second floor bathroom of the OUP in Vračar, through a double-shuttered window measuring only 40 cm x 40 cm at a time when his hands were hand-cuffed behind his back. The fall from the second floor caused injuries which resulted in his death a month later. The autopsy report shows that both the internal and external wounds on his body were inflicted by a swinging, heavy, dull object.

After the District Attorney dropped the criminal complaint in November 2004 which had been filed by the Humanitarian Law Center, the HLC-appointed lawyer for the Petrović family filed with the Belgrade District Court an investigation request and expanded criminal charges against two OUP Vračar police officers. The investigation was cancelled by the decision handed down by the Belgrade District Court on July 17, 2006, with an explanation that there was not enough evidence that the accused police officers were responsible for the commitment of the criminal acts of inflicting serious injuries, obtaining an admission of guilt through force, and abusing power while on duty. On November 30, 2006, the Supreme Court of Serbia turned down the appeal against the decision of the Belgrade District Court and on February 8, 2008, the request for the protection of legality which was filed against this decision was dismissed as well.

HLC insists that the institutions of the Republic of Serbia, especially the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Public Attorney’s Office of the Republic of Serbia (RJP), should have shown more respect for the parents of the late Dejan Petrović and spared them the long and humiliating court proceedings. The fact of the matter is that regardless of the responsibility of the Republic of Serbia for the death of Dejan Petrović, the RJP, representing the state in this case, used all legal means to deny the parents of Dejan Petrović the right to financial compensation, requesting to reduce the amount of compensation payable and insisting that the compensation of one million RSD for the loss of their son was too much to pay.