Hasan Abazi: Individual Liberty at Risk

Posted on March 30, 2012

Hasan Abazi in Solitary Confinement

via Balkans Insight

The President of Kosovo’s Metalworkers Union, Hasan Abazi, has been placed in solitary confinement, says his lawyer, even though he has yet to appear in court.

Fatmir Aliu Pristina / Vranje

A veteran trade unionist from Kosovo, who was arrested on Wednesday by Serbian border police for “espionage” during the NATO bombardment of Serbia in 1999, has been sent to solitary confinement, his lawyer Mladen Vasic confirmed.

“He is now in solitary confinement, which means that the charges are such he must be kept isolated, without being able to see anyone, not even his lawyer,”

said Vasic.

Hasan Abazi, 65, who was on his way to a European trade union conference in Croatia, was detained on the basis of an arrest warrant issued in 1995 under clause 315 of the Serbian Penal Code which deals with “crimes against the constitution and security of the Republic of Serbia”.

Forty eight hours after his arrest, Abazi had still not been sent to the court for a hearing, his lawyer said.

Serbia’s Interior Minister, Ivica Dacic, said on Wednesday, that the arrest was made in retaliation for the arrest of four Serbs on Tuesday evening.

Kosovo police arrested the four Serbs for allegedly carrying material for use in the Serbian local elections on May 6 – elections that Pristina has vowed to prevent.

Amnesty International has condemned the “retaliatory” arrest of the Kosovo Albanian trade unionist, and expressed its concern about the apparently politically motivated arrest by the Serb authorities.

In a press release issued on Friday morning, Amnesty International found the statements made by Serbia’s Minister of Interior Affairs, Ivica Dacic, disturbing,  since he said that the Serbian police would retaliate for every Serb arrested in Kosovo.

“On the basis of these statements, Amnesty International stresses that people’s individual liberty cannot be put at risk as a bargaining chip in a political dispute between Serbia and Kosovo,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

“According to the President of the High Court in Vranje, the case remains with the police. He reportedly stated that the 1995 documentation, on which Hasan Abazi’s arrest was apparently based, is no longer valid,” Amnesty International says.

Haki Abasi, Hasan Abazi’s son, says he was not given any information about his father’s detention, or what would happen to him.

The arrest comes after Serbia and Kosovo signed an outline agreement on freedom of movement, including Kosovo Albanians travelling into Serbia. The agreement came into force in December 2011, and was one of the EU’s preconditions for granting Serbia candidacy status.

Posted in: Kosovo