Testimonies of torture survivors before First Basic Court in Belgrade

On Thursday 30 May 2013, Agim and Sadik Limani from Glogovac/Gllogoc testified before the First Basic Court in Belgrade, in a case brought on their behalf by the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) in April 2010 against the Republic of Serbia, seeking compensation for the torture they experienced in 1999 and 2000 while in unlawful detention. Agim and Sadik Limani testified about the torture they endured in Serbian prisons in 1999 and 2000 and the mental after-effects from which they still suffer.

Agim Limani and his uncle Sadik Limani were arrested by members of the Serbian Ministry of the Interior (MUP) on 4 June 1999 in their family home in Glogovac/Gllogoc. Together with some other men from the Limani family and local residents, they were taken to the police station in Glogovac/Gllogoc, where some 200 Kosovar Albanians had already been brought in. The following day, the police took a group of 20 men, including Agim, Sadik and Agim’s other uncle, Rrahim, to the Gllogovac/Glogoc railway station, where police inspectors beat them with nightsticks and cables and questioned them about the KLA. All the men from the railway station were then transported in a van to the prison in Lipljan/Lipjan, where they were made to walk between a double file of policemen, lined up between the van and the prison building, who were striking them with nightsticks and clubs. After searching and stripping them of their belongings, prison officers allocated Agim and Sadik to a cell 5 by 5 metres in size, holding about 30 people. As there were no beds or blankets, they slept on a bare concrete floor. Their daily meals consisted of a slice of bread and a little water. Prison guards allowed them to use the toilet only once every 24 hours. Agim and Sadik were held in the Lipljan/Lipjan prison until 9 June 1999, when prison guards tied them up and escorted them to buses which would carry them to the prison in Požarevac. On arriving there, the detainees were once again “welcomed” by a gauntlet formed by police officers and inmates who beat them as they walked to the prison building entrance. Agim was initially allocated to a cell shared by other four detainees from Kosovo and beaten up by prison guards on a daily basis for seven months, during which time he was not allowed to leave the cell. Afterwards, he was moved to Pavilion 4, where conditions were a little better. He was now allowed to go out in the courtyard, where he saw his father for the first time since they had been arrested. It was not before December 1999 that Agim’s family learned, through the ICRC representatives who had visited this prison, that Agim was still alive. On arriving at the Požarevac prison, Sadik was held two months in solitary confinement. During that time, he was not allowed to leave his cell and was given food only once a day. Afterwards, he was transferred to Pavillon 2, where conditions were a bit better. Like Agim, he only managed to get in touch with his family again in December 1999. Agim and Sadik were released on 7 April 2000, following the intervention of the ICRC. Since their release from prison, they have disliked the company of others, developed sensitivity to loud noise and suffered from poor sleep and frequent nightmares.

Because of health problems, Agim and Sadik went to consult a doctor, who prescribed them tranquilizers. At subsequent doctor’s visits, both men were diagnosed with PTSD and are still on medication.