Police Abuse Roma in Serbia and Montenegro
29 October 2003
On March 24, 2003, Mr Balaško Sladjana, a 45-year-old Romani man from the Romani settlement in Kneževac on the periphery of Belgrade, testified to the ERRC, in partnership with the Belgrade-based non-governmental organisation Minority Rights Center (MRC) that, on March 3, 2003, he and a friend of his were beaten by police officers at the police station in Voždovac. According to Mr Sladjana, at around 10:15 AM, he and his friend, Mr L.D., were going to the market in Ripanj to sell used goods and tin when they were stopped by police and ordered to drive to the Voždovac Police Station. Mr Sladjana stated that he had a receipt for the goods. According to Mr Sladjana, as soon as they entered the police station, the officers began to beat Mr L.D. and accused them of having stolen the goods. Mr Sladjana informed the ERRC/MRC that the officers cursed their ethnicity and stated, "Hitler should have killed you all." Mr Sladjana told the officers they had not stolen the goods, but the officers reportedly did not believe them. The officers handcuffed Mr Sladjana and Mr L.D. and continued to harass them until approximately 2:45 PM. At this time, Mr Sladjana and Mr L.D. were released but the officers kept Mr Sladjana's car because the registration number on the engine reportedly did not match the number in the car's registration paper. Mr Sladjana insisted, however, that this is not true. As of July 22, 2003, the ERRC/MRC had been unable to locate Mr Sladjana to obtain further information in the case. Further information on the situation of Roma in Serbia and Montenegro is available on the ERRC's Internet website at: www.errc.org.