Compensation lawsuit against the Republic of Serbia for torture in Sandžak in 2002
On May 28, 2007 the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a compensation lawsuit against the Republic of Serbia at the First Municipal Court in Belgrade on behalf of Murat Pepić from Tutin who was beaten by three members of the Department of Internal Affairs (OUP) Tutin in January 2002.
On the night between December 3, 2001 and January 1, 2002, Murat Pepić was celebrating New Year with his friends and relatives at the “Panorama” disco club in Tutin. Fifteen minutes after midnight, he was on his way to extend his New Year’s wishes to his friends who were at a club next door. When he left “Panorama”, he met police officer Sabahet Kurtović at the stairway, who put his gun at the ready and while telling him that “he has been waiting for him for a long time”, he struck him with the butt of his gun on his nose. Then he took him outside the disco club. Sabahet Kurtović hit him again with his gun, tied him up, and pushed him to the ground. Policeman Milijan Luković hit him with a police truncheon while Sabahet Kurtović kept kicking him. Soon, Murat Pepić lost consciousness under the force of blows but the police officers carried on striking him relentlessly even after he was rendered unconscious. The event was witnessed by a number of bystanders who came out of nearby restaurants. One of them, Haćif Kurbadović wanted to help him, but was prevented by policeman Sabahudin Nurković who said: “We need him. We’ve been waiting for him for seven years”.
Murat Pepić regained consciousness only the following day in the intensive care unit of the Novi Pazar hospital. Shortly after, he was transferred to the Clinical Center of Serbia in Belgrade, where he was diagnosed with head, nose, and two rib fractures.
In October 1994, as owner of the “Točak” restaurant in Tutin, Murat Pepić was exposed to numerous threats and pressures by the OUP Tutin police officers who came to his restaurant. Finally, the threats turned into reality when his restaurant was demolished in November 1994, which why he left Serbia and went to Germany. Policeman Milijan Luković threatened him several times through his relatives. Murat Pepić returned to Serbia in December 2001, less than a month before the incident in front of the disco club.
In the process held against them at the Municipal Court in Tutin, police officers Milijan Luković, Sabahet Kurović, and Sabahudin Nurković were found guilty of inflicting serious bodily injuries and abuse while on duty and sentenced to one year probation. However, despite the judgement for these criminal acts, they have never been removed from service and they are still employed with the MUP Serbia, OUP Tutin. Murat Pepić was sentenced to six months probation for obstructing an official in performing his public security duty.
HLC calls upon Serbian state institutions to adopt reparation programs with respect to victims of human rights abuses in the past as specified in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law adopted on December 16, 2005 by which it invited member states to, acting in accordance with domestic and international law, provide reparations for victims of acts or omissions to act which can be attributed to the state and which constitute gross violations of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law.