Courts in Serbia Continue Practice of Granting Low Compensation Amounts to Victims of Crimes Committed During 1990’s
The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) filed a complaint against the verdict rendered by the First Basic Court in Belgrade obliging the Republic of Serbia to pay the amount of 210,000 RSD to Kosovo Albanians, Jahir Krasniqi and Jakup Tahiri, as compensation for being found responsible for the inhumane treatment and torture that these victims were exposed to by members of the Ministry of Interior (MUP) during their unlawful detention in 1999 and 2000. HLC highlights that this is one of the lowest compensation amounts granted by courts in Serbia in cases of serious human rights violations committed during 1990’s thus relativizing the responsibility of the state for crimes for which representatives of institutions of Serbia are found responsible.
HLC initiated the lawsuit for compensation of damages on behalf of Krasniqi and Tahiri against the Republic of Serbia before the First Basic Court in Belgrade on April 24th, 2010. Six main hearing sessions were held in the course of the proceedings during which Krasniqi and Tahiri gave statements describing their unlawful arrest, the torture and inhumane treatment suffered during their unlawful detention. In the expert medical examination carried out during the proceedings it was established that due to the consequences of the torture and inhumane treatment suffered, Krasniqi’s and Tahiri’s health was permanently damaged.
In the judgment rendered on October 4th 2013, the court established that in the period May 18th-October 4th, 1999, Jahir Tahiri was unlawfully detained and kept in prisons in Lipljan/Lipjan and in Sremska Mitrovica where he was exposed to torture and beating. In July 1999, Krasniqi spent 10 days in solitary. During the unlawful detention, he was not interrogated and he received the detention order only when he was transferred to Sremska Mitrovica. After he was released, members of the MUP confiscated the order at the Merdare crossing. Jakup Tahiri was unlawfully arrested on May 29th, 1999. He was unlawfully detained until April 18th, 2000 in prisons in Lipljan/Lipjan. Police officers and prison guards tortured him on daily basis and he never received the detention order.
Because of the responsibility for unlawful acts undertaken by members of the MUP, the court obliged the Republic of Serbia to pay 140,000 RSD to Jahir Krasniqi and 70,000 RSD to Jakub Tahiri.
Because of the Serb attacks Jahir Krasniqi left the village of Negrovac/Negroc [the Municipality of Glogovac/Gllogoc] in late March 1999 together with his family. They took refuge in a flour storage building at the train station in the nearby village of Trdevac/Tërdevc. On May 18th, 1999 around 11:00, members of the Serbian police and army arrived in the village of Trdevac/Tërdevc and ordered all the men in the village to step out to the road. From there, they took them to the village of Banjica/Baice, where they separated some 25 men, including Jahir, from others and took them to the police station in Glogovac/Gllogoc. Police officers took Tahir together with the other detained men to the train several hours later. They took him to the prison in Priština/Prishtinë, and several hours later to the prison in Lipljan/Lipjan. There, they placed him inside a sports hall together with some 350 other Albanian prisoners. The conditions were bad. Prisoners slept on the wooden floor without matrasses, blankets, and water. They received only one piece of bread a day. The sanitary conditions were poor and nearly all of them caught some sort of infection, lice, and mange. The use of toilet depended on the good will of prison guards, who used these occasions to beat the prisoners.
On June 9th, 1999, prison guards and police officers handcuffed all of the prisoners during the night and in the morning took them to the buses and transferred them to the prison in Sremska Mitrovica. Jahir stayed there until October 4th, 1999, when he was taken back to Kosovo with the help of the ICRC.
Jakup Tahiri lived in Glogovac/Gllogoc with his family when Serbian police arrived in their house on May 29th, 1999 and took Jakub and his two sons in the backyard. Police officers gathered all the men from the village at this point. They placed them inside military trucks and took them to a commercial space in the centre of the town where some 300 other men – Kosovo Albanians, had already been gathered. Jakub was kept there until the morning of the following day. He was taken to the prison in Lipljan/Lipjan at this point. Immediately upon his arrival, police officers beat him up. Prison guards placed him in a room where 38 other detained men had already been placed. They slept on the concrete floor in poor sanitary conditions and almost without any food. On June 10th, 1999, Jakup and other prisoners were transferred to the prison in Požarevac where they had to run the gauntlet while prisoners and prison guards beat them on their way from the buses to the prison building. The conditions for Albanians prisoners improved after several months – they started receiving humanitarian packages and basic medical care. Jakup was not interrogated in Požarevac and he did not receive any decision on the extension of his detention. He was released on April 18th, 2000 thanks to the mediation of the ICRC.