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News 17 Feb 14

Serbs Rally Against Violence After Killings

Thousands of people rallied in the Serbian cities of Nis and Novi Sad, calling for the killers in local murder cases to be brought to justice and the state to tackle violence.

Gordana Andric
BIRN
Belgrade

The murder of a medical student in Nis and the annulment of the conviction of the alleged killer of a model in Novi Sad triggered street protests on Saturday against a perceived lack of justice for the victims.

Murders in Nis and Novi Sad

Vuk Stoiljkovic was stabbed four times on February 10 when he left a café where he had been sitting with his girlfriend. Police arrested a local 20-year-old man on suspecion of murder.

Local media reported that the motive for the attack was that Stoiljkovic allegedly “scowled” at the suspected murderer.

Vladislava Cervenko was beaten to death in November 2012. According to the indictment raised against her boyfriend Darijan Music, he hit her 50 times with his fists and a metal bat, then burned the date of his birthday on her body with a cigarette.

Music was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment in July last year, but the appeals court in Novi Sad annulled the verdict and sent the case for a retrial on February 11. The appeals court did not made public the reasons for its decision.

Several thousand people angered by the killing of 22-year-old student Vuk Stoiljkovic gathered in the centre of Serbia’s third-largest city Nis on Saturday to call on the local and national authorities to take action.

“The protest is a warning to institutions and the state that they must start a decisive campaign against violence,” Biljana Golubovic, a philosophy professor from Nis, said at the rally.

The mayor of Nis, Zoran Perisic, said that he supported the protesters and called on the police to prevent attacks and the judiciary to do their job professionally.

Several hundred protesters also gathered in Serbia’s second-largest city Novi Sad, angered by the verdict clearing the alleged killer of 26-year-old model Vladisalava Cervenko.

Among the protesters were Cervenko’s family and the relatives of 22-year-old student Marija Cimbal, who was murdered and her body set on fire in February 2013. The trial of her alleged killer has yet to start.

The Novi Sad demonstrators held banners with slogans like “Annul the court that annuls verdicts against murderers” and “I don’t feel safe in my own town”.

“The citizens of Novi Sad have joined the citizens of Nis in their fight for justice. We cannot allow murderers to walk free, we cannot allow a corrupt judiciary to be lenient to criminals again, and most of all, we cannot allow such a thing to ever happen again,” the organisers of the protest said in a statement.

Serbian ombudsman Sasa Jankovic told news agency Tanjug on Saturday that state institutions should have tried to stamp out violence a long time ago.

“We have nurtured violence for a long time and observed it like it’s a normal thing… while in the meantime, institutions lost their authority and significance,” said Jankovic.

 

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