News 08 Jul 13

Serbia to Compensate Kosovo Albanians for Torture

Three Kosovo Albanians were awarded a total of around 4,000 euro for the torture and inhumane conditions they suffered while imprisoned in Serbia in 1999 and 2000.

Marija Ristic

The court in Belgrade ruled on Monday that the state must pay out 150,000 dinars (around 1340 euros) each to Jashar Kukaj and brothers Xheladin and Zenel Bylykbashij after they were tortured by Serbian police while they were in prison in the town of Pozarevac.

Explaining the verdict, the court said that Serbian police arrested the men “without any legal grounds” at the end of May 1999 and held them in custody.

In May 1999, Serbian forces occupied the Kosovo village of Novo Čikatovo/Çikatove e Rë, detained the Albanian men and took them away to a prison in Lipljan/Lipjan.

According to Zenel Bylykbashi’s testimony, he was beaten constantly while in custody in Lipljan/Lipjan, and when he was transferred to the Serbian town of Pozarevec, he was not given food or water some days.

He was released after spending eight months in detention.

Xheladin Bylykbashi and Jashar Kukaj, who were imprisoned by Serb forces in February 1999, told the court that they were interrogated and beaten by police on several occasions.

They both claimed that the conditions in prison in Pozarevac were inhumane, adding that they were also left without food and water several times.

The men were released after eleven months.

Belgrade’s Humanitarian Law Centre, which filed the lawsuit against Serbia on behalf of the men, plans to appeal against the verdict, arguing that it was “humiliating” because of the small payout.

“With this miserable compensation to victims of serious violations of human rights, the Serbian courts are relativising misdeeds committed during the 1990s for which the state was responsible,” the Humanitarian Law Centre said.

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