News 13 Feb 13

Strasbourg Accepts Serbia Appeal Over Unpaid Soldiers

The European Court for Human Rights says it will revise its ruling that Serbia must hand out millions of euros in unpaid wages to war veterans.

Marija Ristic

The Strasbourg rights court said on Monday that it would look again at the verdict handed down last year which ruled that Belgrade must pay around two billion dinars (17 million euro) to veterans of the conflicts of the 1990s.

“Now the court has an opportunity to again, in detail, revise the statements of the war veterans who appealed against Serbia on the grounds of unpaid wages and discrimination,” Serbia’s justice ministry told BIRN.

“We have now filed some evidence that proves our claim and that was not presented before. Because of this, the August [2012] ruling was put aside,” the ministry said.

A 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 has only paid overdue wages to war veterans from seven towns in southern Serbia who held large protests in 2008 demanding their money.

The government asked the Strasbourg court to revise its ruling because it insists that the money was only given to the southern Serbia veterans as welfare payments, not as wages.

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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