Serbia to Pay Reparations to Ex-Kosovo Mayor

A Serbian court has granted approximately €3,300 in reparation to the former mayor of the Kosovo municipality of Suva Reka for suffering caused by Serbian police during conflict in Kosovo.

The First Basic Court in Belgrade has ruled on Friday that Serbia is responsible for the torture of Mustafa Kolgeci, an ethnic Albanian from the Kosovo municipality of Suva Reka, committed by Serbian police, which held him in custody from September 1998 until January 2000.

The Trial Chamber has concluded that during the 16 months custody the police tortured Kolgeci physically and mentally on a daily basis and ordered the Serbian authorities to pay out 380,000 dinars [about € 3,300] as a compensation for the pain he suffered.

Kolgeci was arrested in September 1998 in his hometown under a suspicion of illegal arms possession, and soon after was charged with terrorism.

In January 2000, a local court in the Serbian town of Pozarevac dropped the charges against him.

During the 16 months imprisonment, Kolgeci changed four prisons, in which he was held without basic supplies – without beds and almost without food and water, which left permanent damages to Koleci’s health.

One of the prisons where he was held was the infamous Dubrava prison which was bombed by NATO in 1999.

According to Kolgeci, after the bombardment, the police gathered all the survived prisoners, including Kolgeci, and started shooting at them from  automatic arms.

He survived the shooting, and shortly after was transferred to another prison in the Kosovo municipality of Lipljan.

The Humanitarian Law Centre, HLC, who filed a complaint on Kolgeci’s behalf, says that the reparation amount is inadequate in the light of the torture he survived.

The HLC notes that courts in Serbia apply reparation laws differently when it comes to the victims of the Serbian police and army during the conflicts in the 1990s.

In regular reparation procedures, the amounts given for suffering and torture by the police are much higher. In the cases where lawyers, judges or army officers were illegally detained after 2000, the reparation given varies from €5,000 to €50,000.

They cite the example of the former head of army security services, Aca Tomic, who received 6 million Dinars [€54,000] for being held illegally in Serbian police custody during 2003.

Kolgeci’s legal representatives announced that they will appeal the verdict, as they are not satisfied with the amount of reparation.

Marija Ristic