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News 21 Jan 15

Serbian Ombudsman Complains of Threats

Serbian ombudsman says he 'does not feel safe' after filing criminal charges against two members of the Military Police and after revealing his suspicion that the security agency has eavesdropped on opposition parties, union leaders and judges.



Sasa Jankovic. Serbian Ombudsman. | Photo by Media Centre Belgrade

Sasa Jankovic, Serbia’s ombudsman, told TV N1 that he does not feel safe because of the threats and allegations he has received since filing charges against two military policemen.

“Here critics are considers traitors,” Jankovic told N1 on Tuesday evening.

On January 14, Jankovic filed criminal charges against two members of the Military Police on suspicion of attacking members of the Gendarmerie in the performance of their official duties.

The incident occurred during Gay Parade on September 28 2014, when members of the Gendarmerie clashed with four persons - two members of Military Police, Andrej Vucic, brother of the Prime Minister, and Predrag Mali, brother of the Mayor of Belgrade.

It is unclear whether the Military Police members were engaged as security to the Prime Minister’s brother.

On January 15, Jankovic told the weekly NIN that he has reason to believe that military's security agency, VBA, had been eavesdropping on some opposition parties, union leaders and judges.

These allegations should have been checked during the Ombudsman's monitoring of the Defence Ministry in late 2014. However, the ministry refused to cooperate and deliver the necessary documents and answers to the ombudsman's office.

The opposition Democrats have since called for Bratislav Gasic, the Defence Minister, to resign. Gasic, however, responded by demanding that the Ombudsman first submit proofs for his claims. The General Inspectorate of the military security service has begun an investigation into the Ombudsman’s allegations.

Human Rights House, a network of Serbian NGOs, and the Independent Journalists' Association, NUNS, has meanwhile accused some officials, including a Progressives Party MP, Vladimir Djukanovic, and Labour Minister Aleksandar Vulin, of waging a campaign against the Ombudsman for filing criminal charges against members of the VBA.

They have urged officials to clearly distance themselves from Djukanovic and Vulin’s criticisms of the Ombudsman.

“Otherwise, the consequences for democracy and the rule of law will be immense, and the responsibility would rest entirely on the highest officials of the ruling parties and the executive power,” Human Rights House and NUNS said in a statement on January 19.


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