News 06 Feb 13

Serbia Appeals Against Paying War Veterans

Belgrade wants the European human rights court to reverse its ruling that Serbia must pay millions of euros in wages to ex-servicemen.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade
Photo by Wikicommons

The court in Strasbourg confirmed on Tuesday that it had received Belgrade’s request to overturn the decision last year ordering Serbia to pay around two billion dinars (17 million euro) to veterans of the conflicts of the 1990s.

“For the time being we can only confirm that we received the request in November 2012. The Grand Chamber Panel will decide in due course whether this request will be accepted or not,” the court’s press office told BIRN.

Group of war veterans from the city of Nis and surrounding areas sued Serbia in Strasbourg, claiming that the government violated their rights and discriminated against some of them.

The lawsuit was launched because the Serbian government only paid overdue wages only to war veterans from towns of Prokuplje and Kursumlija, who held large protests in 2008 demanding their money.

“This move by the Serbian government inspired a number of lawsuits from war veterans before the courts, who are all only asking for the same treatment,” said Srdjan Aleskic, who acted as the lawyer for the veterans in the Strasbourg case.

The government is asking the Strasbourg court to revise it ruling because it insists that the money was only given to veterans from Prokuplje and Kursumlija as a welfare payment, not as wages.

“Serbia will now file some evidence that proves our claim and that was not known to the court before,” Slavoljub Caric, Serbia’s lawyer at the human rights court, told daily newspaper Politika.

The exact number of war veterans in Serbia is unknown. The defence ministry says around 500,000 people can be classified as veterans, but some veterans’ groups say that the total exceeds 700,000.

 

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