Humanitarian Law Center Requests Prime Minister to Dismiss Mileta Novakovic

The Humanitarian Law Center sent a letter of request to Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica to dismiss Mileta Novakovic, a member of Gendarmerie special unit, from service in the Ministry of Interior due to his responsibility for human rights abuses in 1994 and 2006.

According to HLC documentation, Muslims from the municipality of Prijepolje were summoned to the police station and forced, by means of beating, to confess that they were concealing weapons. These events occured during the action of confiscating illegaly-posessed weapons in February 1994, when Mileta Novakovic was undertaking Chief duties at the Prijepolje branch of the Secretariat of the Interior. HLC recorded that, during this police action, officers searched over 150 Bosniak households but only discovered weaponry in three of them. Over 100 Bosniaks were summoned to the Prijepolje police station, among which more than 80 were heavily beaten.

According to statements from two victimes collected by HLC researchers, Chief Novakovic personally took part in their battering.

The first victim describes his encounter with Chief Novakovic as follows: “When they summoned me to meet inspector Popovic, Mileta Novakovic and another person entered the room. Mileta immediately punched me in the chest. I grabbed his arm and asked him not to beat me since I suffer from a medical condition. He knew I was missing one kidney, we knew each other for a long time… He said that he would rip out my other kidney, too, while he punched my chest and face…”

The second victim also stated that he was beaten by Chief Novakovic: “ I told him [Novakovic] I had nothing to confess. He picked up a chair and walked towards me, swearing and threatening. He then punched me on both sides of my head. He pulled me by the jacket and, as I fell on the ground, punched the area around my kidneys five or six times. When I asked him why he was beating me, he punched me in the plexus and I lost my breath. He stopped when Inspector Pop entered the office. I complained to him [inspector Pop] and he replied by saying that he was going to beat me, too…”

According to HLC information, Mileta Novakovic was the officer-in-charge at the Partisan – Red Star match in Belgrade on 15th June, 2006, when he commanded the Gendarmerie unit that was securing the match and ordered the unit to use force on the basketball fans.

Bearing in mind the presented documentation, HLC prompts the Prime Minister to initiate the process of Mileta Novakovic’s dismissal from the Ministry of Interior. Such action will serve the interests of creating responsible institutions in the Republic of Serbia.