Roma to Sue Serbia for ‘Tolerating’ War Crime

European Court of Human Rights

Representatives of Serbia’s Roma community said they plan to sue the state at the European Court of Human Rights. This came after a Belgrade court acquitted members of a paramilitary group of killing 27 Roma civilians in 1992.

Sources quoted the National Council of Roma, the constitutionally-endorsed body representing the country’s Roma, and the Roma Centre for Strategy, Development and Democracy NGO as saying on Thursday that they will sue the Serbian state at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg over the recent verdict that acquitted six paramilitaries of killing 27 Roma in 1992.

The bodies said that Serbia “tolerated a grave war crime by uniformed citizens by Serbia with arms given to them by the then JNA [Yugoslav People's Army], Army of Republika Srpska and the Serbian MUP [interior ministry]”.

They sent an open letter announcing the lawsuit to the Serbian president, prime minister and justice ministry, as well as to the OSCE and several other international organizations, sources reported.

Belgrade’s Appeals Court confirmed on June 25, the release of the six former members of the Sima’s Chetniks paramilitary unit, clearing them of killing 27 Roma civilians in the village of Skocic in Bosnia in July 1992. Nevertheless, three of the former paramilitaries - Zoran Alic, Zoran Djurdjevic and Tomislav Gavric - were convicted of inhumane treatment, violation of physical integrity, sexual humiliation and rape.

Also, in the open letter, the National Council of Roma and the Roma Centre for Strategy, Development, and Democracy said that the verdict was “scandalous and has humiliated all Roma, especially those who survived the massacre and came to testify”.

They added that the verdict will have a significant influence on Roma people’s attitude towards the state and increase tensions and distance between Serbs and Roma.