Legal Action in Roma Rights Cases in Serbia and Montenegro

07 February 2004

At the end of October 2003, the District Court of Šabac in western Serbia upheld the decision of the Šabac Municipal Court, ordering the company Jugen TTT, owner of the Krsmanovac Sports and Recreation Centre, to publish a public apology in the daily newspaper Politika. On July 8, 2000, three young Roma - Merihana Rustenov, Jordan Vasić and Zoran Vasić - were denied access to the centre's swimming pool on the basis of their ethnicity (background information on the case is available at: Prosecuting Anti-Romani Actions in Serbia and Montenegro and Roma barred from sports centre pool in Yugoslavia). The Belgrade-based non-governmental organisation Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), in co-operation with the ERRC, provided legal assistance in the case.

Earlier, on October 13, 2003, the ERRC, its local partner in monitoring Roma rights abuse, Minority Rights Center (MRC), and the HLC filed a criminal complaint against Mr Kosta Brzak, Mr Slobodan Pantelić and an unknown person, following an assault on three Romani men at the Novi Sad flea market in northern Serbia on August 31, 2003. According to the victims' testimony to the ERRC/MRC, Mr Brzak and Mr Pantelić attacked Mssrs Seljatim, Ljumni and Besim Kolovati, knocking Seljatim unconscious and hitting Ljumni and Besim. At this point, other Romani vendors began to collect their goods and leave the market, and between 20 and 30 men picked up spades and chased the Romani vendors, trying to hit them as they ran. Mr Seljatim Kolovati was taken to the local hospital for treatment, and Besim and Ljumni also sustained injuries. Police filed only misdemeanour charges against Mr Brzak and Mr Pantelić.

On October 10, 2003, the ERRC, the MRC and the HLC filed a criminal complaint against unknown security guards of Belgrade's Acapulco Club after Mr Petar and Ms Ljutvija Antić and Ms Zorica Stojković were denied entrance to the club on the basis of their Romani ethnicity. A civil action, for monetary compensation, an apology and an end to the discriminatory practices of the restaurant, was also filed against the owner of the Acapulco Club. Mr and Ms Antić reported they had been denied, on several occasions, entrance to the restaurant. On July 25, 2003, the HLC and the MRC conducted a test, sending two teams of three persons, one Romani and one non-Romani, suitably dressed and behaved. The Romani team was asked for reservations, which they did not have, and were denied access to the restaurant. The non-Romani team, which followed, was not asked for a reservation and was permitted to enter and seated.

Finally, on September 11, 2003, the ERRC, the MRC and the HLC, on behalf of Ms Mirsada Malićević, a 21-year-old Romani woman, filed a criminal complaint with the Leskovac District Prosecutor against unknown persons for incitement to ethnic, racial or religious hatred or intolerance and causing bodily harm. At around 9:00 PM on September 14, 2003, Ms Malićević was brutally beaten and offended on racial grounds by unknown perpetrators in front of a shop in Leskovac.



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