Continued Detention of Hasan Abazi

Posted on April 10, 2012

via Daniel Serwer

Dačić’s shameful revenge

A friend of Hasan Abazi, an Albanian labor unionist arrested in Serbia March 28, has provided the following update:

After 13 days in prison, the ILLEGAL detention of Hasan Abazi continues without word from the Serbian government regarding the case other than obtuse and inflammatory statements made in the media by [Interior] Minister Dačić regarding his intention to “continue arresting Albanians”.

Procedural regulations that have been violated:

  • Mr. Abazi was unlawfully detained for 53 hours before being brought before a judge—Serbian law dictates that within 48 hours a person needs to be either brought to court or released
  • He was arrested without him or his attorney being given his charges for 53 hours while Serbian law dictates that it must be done within 12 hours
  • He was denied access to a lawyer and to his family for 53 hours
  • Mr. Abazi’s prison term was extended for 30 more days even though no evidence or witnesses have been presented
  • The appeal filed by Mr. Abazi’s attorney has yet to be reviewed one week later, even though court practice dictates it should be done within 3 days
  • Mr. Abazi’s attorney is still being denied access to his client’s full file with no explanation as to why
  • According to the decision extending his detention, Mr. Abazi is being held on the basis that there is danger of his escape due to his “permanent place of residence” (i.e. Kosovo). The same document calls for the interrogation of other witnesses, namely Kosovo Albanians, and does not take into account the same fact use against Mr. Abazi—that they too reside outside of Serbia, namely in Kosovo.

Mr. Abazi is being charged for alleged crimes committed in 1999 under Milosevic-era laws and based on witness statements taken during the war when Milosevic’s structures were in charge of interrogation. The indictment was abolished after the democratic transition in Serbia but for unknown reasons it was renewed in 2005 by a prosecution that no longer exists and did not even have jurisdiction over Kosovo at that time.

Mr. Abazi is a TRADE UNION LEADER. He has never been affiliated with any militant or armed groups such as the KLA. It is shameful that the government of Serbia would blatantly exploit this case for pre-election vote-mongering. It is incumbent upon EU officials, as stewards of Serbia’s EU candidacy process, that they immediately demand Mr. Abazi’s release in accordance with Serbian and international laws.

PS:  If anyone asks, yes I would publish a similar plea concerning the arrest of Serbs in Kosovo, who however I understand to have been released some days ago.