The State of Serbia Paid Damages for Illegal Work of State Institutions

The State of Serbia paid 250,000 Dinars to Roma Danilo Dimitrijević in damages for the violation of his rights prescribed by the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [Convention Against Torture], which was determined in the decision of the UN Committee Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [UN Committee Against Torture] rendered on 16 November 2005. HLC believes that, in this settlement, the Republic of Serbia Public Attorney’s Office was guided by the poor financial situation in which Danilo Dimitrijević was and offered him compensation of 250,000 Dinars, which is not a just satisfaction for the injustice caused to him.

HLC submitted a compensation request, on behalf of Danilo Dimitrijević, on 17 October 2007 in the Republic of Serbia Public Attorney’s Office within the programme of support for victims of past human rights violations.

On 14 November 1997, around 12:00, police arrested Danilo Dimitrijević without stating any reasons for the arrest and detained him in the Police Station on Kraljevića Marka Street in Novi Sad. Dimitrijević did not resist the arrest since he had already been a suspect in investigations into several cases of theft before the Novi Sad District Court. An unidentified person entered the room, in which police took Dimitrijević immediately after his arrest, and ordered him to take off all of his clothes; he handcuffed him to a metal pole on the office wall. During the following hour, this person hit Dimitrijević numerous times with a police truncheon while Dimitrijjević was handcuffed. After the beating, no one informed Danilo Dimitrijević why he had been arrested and had not received a detention order. Dimitrijević spent the following three days in the room in which he was subjected to torture. He was still handcuffed to the metal bar; he was deprived of food and basic hygiene conditions. Even though the injuries on his body showed that he needed urgent medical care, no one in the Police Station took any measures to provide him with the necessary help.

Three days later, Danilo Dimitrijević was taken to the Novi Sad District Court Investigative Judge Savo Đurić for examination regarding the thefts for which he was a suspect. When the Investigative Judge saw the shape in which Dimitrijević was, he ordered police officers to take him for a forensic examination. However, police officers did not abide by the Investigative Judge’s order. They presented Dimitrijević with the detention release order instead, without stating any reasons. This order falsely stated that he was arrested on 14 November 1997 at 23:00 even though Danilo was arrested eleven hours earlier.

After being released from prison, Dimitrijević took several days to recover from his injuries. After he consulted a Lawyer, he contacted the Novi Sad Clinical Centre Forensic Institute to have determined the nature and severity of the injuries suffered. However, the medical examination report has never been delivered to the injured party because it was allegedly supposed to be delivered to Investigative Judge Đurić.

On 24 November 1997 Danilo Dimitrijević filed a criminal complaint against unidentified persons in the Novi Sad Municipal Office of the Prosecutor. The Municipal Prosecutor did not act upon this criminal complaint for nearly three years. Consequently, HLC and the European Roma Rights Centre filed a complaint to the UN Committee on behalf of Danilo Dimitrijević.

In the decision the UN Committee Against Torture rendered on 16 November 2005 it was determined that Danilo Dimitrijević was a victim of torture pursuant to Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture and that the then State of Serbia and Montenegro failed to initiate an investigation into this case, thus violating Article 12 of the Convention; that the state union did not initiate a prompt and impartial investigation into the Complainant’s case, thus violating Article 13 of the Convention; article 14 of the Convention was also violated because the torture victim was prevented from requesting adequate compensation for damages. After establishing the fact that the then State of Serbia and Montenegro had violated the Convention Against Torture, the UN Committee Against Torture requested that Serbia and Montenegro initiate a proper investigation into this case and inform the Committee of all undertaken measures not later than 90 days from receiving the decision. However, instead of initiating a prompt and comprehensive investigation, the Serbian state authorities, or more precisely the Novi Sad Public Attorney’s Office, informed Danilo Dimitrijević in July 2007 that the criminal complaint he submitted 10 years ago was dismissed because there was allegedly no reasonable grounds that the crime had been committed.

Numerous international and domestic legal norms have been violated because it has been more than 10 years since Danilo Dimitrijević was subjected to torture and the Serbian state authorities have not initiated a proper investigation. The UN Committee Against Torture confirmed this in its decision. Because of this, HLC, on behalf of Danilo Dimitrijević, submitted a compensation request to the Republic of Serbia Public Attorney’s Office on 17 October 2007 because of the illegal work of state authorities. In view of this request, the Republic of Serbia Public Attorney’s Office offered settlement in the amount of 250,000 Dinars. Danilo Dimitrijević accepted this settlement because of the poor financial situation in which he and his family were.