Belgrade Six Acquitted

Charges against the six Serbian anarcho-syndicalists falsely accused of "international terrorism" following some minor property damage have finally been dropped following an international campaign.

Ratibor, one of the six stated upon the announcement on 16 June:

All the charges against us are dropped now. The presiding judge shortly explained that the ruling is "based on law, and not politics" (which is indirect admitting that the whole process from the start was politically motivated, and not rutted in facts), and that there are no proofs to confirm that we were engaged in "helping and abetting" (comrade Tadej and I) and "creating of public danger" (companera Sanja and comrades Ivan S, Nikola and Ivan V). The Prosecutor has 8 days to file a complaint, but judging by the public reactions and huge media coverage of the case and ruling we don't expect to have the verdict overturned on the higher court. Now our focus is on getting tree comrades from ASI Vrsac freed from charges of "Obstruction of Justice" for putting up the posters with "Free arrested anarchist" tittle, and getting passport back to Croatian anarcho-syndicalist comrade who is kept in Serbia for 4 months. A Croatian comrade is held here by the Court, with the same charge as Vrsac comrades, for having a peace of paper with "Anarchism is not terrorism" tittle in the hole of the Court on our first public hearing on 17th of February, when we were released from the investigation prison - after almost six months spent in unbelievable conditions.

On 24-25 August 2009 the Greek Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia was defaced in solidarity with Todiris Iliopulos who was imprisoned in Greece and was on hunger strike. There was minor damage to the outside of the embassy building. Even though responsibility was claimed by another group entirely, in September four members of the Anarchosyndicalist Initiative (ASI, the Serbian section of the International Workers' Association) and two others were arrested without warrants. They were held without charge for 3 months and then finally charged with "international terrorism", the first time this charge was ever used in Serbia.

The Belgrade 6 spent the next five and a half months in terrible conditions of isolation and torture in the Central Prison in Belgrade. But hard work by other comrades in the Balkans, combined with impressive international protest by libertarian groups and public disquiet about the use of the new law resulted in their release on bail in February 2010. At the first hearing on 17 February, that more than 200 people from Serbia and elsewhere attempted to attend, the court released them to continue their defence outside of prison.

It is important to know that during the detention of the Belgrade 6, three supporters from another ASI local were arrested in Vršac for putting up posters with the words "Freedom for arrested anarchists". Two other comrades from outside Serbia were arrested while supporting the Belgrade 6 during the trial, for handing out a leaflet saying "Anarchism is not terrorism", and had their travel papers seized. Also the authorities tried to close down an art show featuring one of the Belgrade 6. After the defeat of the frst hearing the right-wing decided to use alternative forms of repression and intimidation against ASI. In early March 2010 fascist posters saying "Know your neighborhood! Know the enemies of Serbia" appeared near the entrance of a tower block where one of the Belgrade 6 lives. The poster told lies about ASI and said “if a corrupt court will not judge them, there are those who will” and "We know where you live, we know when you sleep".

A second hearing took place on 23 March. Under the threat of another month of delay the defendants were forced to participate in the second hearing without a public presence. Only on the day of the trial were they were told that the charge of "international terrorism" would be dropped to one of "endangering public safety". The charge was still serious as it is the same charge given to nationalists who set fire to the American embassy against U.S. support for Kosovo's declaration of independence, in which one person died. The minimum prison sentence is 6 months and the maximum is 13 years.

From the beginning the charge of "international terrorism" and the political show trial was most clearly another act of repression against ASI who are opposing the ultra-conservatives and nationalists and supporting workers’ unrest in Serbia and elsewhere in the Balkans, like Greece. Protests have been banned in downtown Belgrade, as the authorities seek to control workers’ unrest. The Belgrade Pride parade was also banned. Members of ASI supported that parade. We see that political convictions are enough to get anarchists locked up, to face the most serious of charges.

This article is a composite article by libcom.org, using text by the Anarchist Federation. This article was also originally a forum post by Akai which read: Good news: the court acquitted the Belgrade Six some minutes ago. They could not prove the charges against them. Hopefully there will be more details of the trial shortly.

Comments

Rob Ray
Jun 16 2010 13:22

Excellent!

posi
Jun 16 2010 13:34

brilliant!

EdmontonWobbly
Jun 16 2010 14:21

Good to hear.

sabot
Jun 16 2010 15:39

great news. The whole case against the Belgrade 6 is ridiculous.

Joseph Kay
Jun 16 2010 15:51

good shit smile

rata
Jun 16 2010 16:03

Just a short note. Today court has found us not guilty for the charges that were presented by the Prosecutor, after changing of the original indictment from "International terrorism" to "Creating of public danger". All the charges against us are dropped now. The presiding judge shortly explained that the ruling is "based on law, and not politics" (which is indirect admitting that the whole process from the start was politically motivated, and not rutted in facts), and that there are no proofs to confirm that we were engaged in "helping and abetting" (comrade Tadej and I) and "creating of public danger" (companera Sanja and comrades Ivan S, Nikola and Ivan V). The Prosecutor has 8 days to file a complaint, but judging by the public reactions and huge media coverage of the case and ruling we don't expect to have the verdict overturned on the higher court. Now our focus is on getting tree comrades from ASI Vrsac freed from charges of "Obstruction of Justice" for putting up the posters with "Free arrested anarchist" tittle, and getting passport back to Croatian anarcho-syndicalist comrade who is kept in Serbia for 4 months. Croatian comrade is held here by the Court, with the same charge as Vrsac comrades, for having a peace of paper with "Anarchism is not terrorism" tittle in the hole of the Court on our first public hearing on 17th of February, when we were released from the investigation prison - after almost six months spent in unbelievable conditions.

Bellow are some of the media report (in Serbian) on the case:

National TV

Biggest liberal media company - B92

Big internet news portal

Thank you all for the support, we couldn't have done this without great help and intense solidarity of many comrades, from Serbia and the world.

/I have sent this to some solidarity mailing lists, but I think it might be interesting to have it here too/

madashell
Jun 16 2010 16:17

Excellent news.

Rata, would you mind what you wrote above being quoted in an article for the AF blog?

rata
Jun 16 2010 16:24
madashell wrote:
Excellent news.

Rata, would you mind what you wrote above being quoted in an article for the AF blog?

Of course not comrade, just go ahead.

ronan
Jun 16 2010 18:21

congratulations, I'm glad to hear it.

Alf
Jun 16 2010 19:18

Good news, but from rata's post other comrades are still under arrest, if I understood correctly.

Volin
Jun 16 2010 20:41

Huzzah. They just can't keep us down.

rata wrote:
Now our focus is on getting tree comrades from ASI Vrsac freed from charges of "Obstruction of Justice" for putting up the posters with "Free arrested anarchist" tittle, and getting passport back to Croatian anarcho-syndicalist comrade who is kept in Serbia for 4 months. Croatian comrade is held here by the Court, with the same charge as Vrsac comrades, for having a peace of paper with "Anarchism is not terrorism" tittle in the hole of the Court on our first public hearing on 17th of February

Are there rules in Serbia against the word 'anarchism'/supporting anarchists? It just seems like an unsual way to obstruct justice.

akai
Jun 16 2010 20:53

Somebody sent a longer article here:

http://cia.bzzz.net/english_news

Choccy
Jun 16 2010 21:13

smile

thegonzokid
Jun 16 2010 21:27

Brilliant! A few months ago things were looking gloomy for both the FAU and the Belgrade 6. This is great news! red n black star

Anarchia
Jun 17 2010 01:13

Congrats rata and the other arrestees, great news smile

tsi
Jun 17 2010 01:23

Fantastic news comrades.

rata
Jun 17 2010 02:12
Alf wrote:
Good news, but from rata's post other comrades are still under arrest, if I understood correctly.

No, the comrades were held in prison for only one or two days, and released to defend themselves from "freedom" (that meaning Serbia for Croatian comrade).

Volin wrote:
Are there rules in Serbia against the word 'anarchism'/supporting anarchists? It just seems like an unsual way to obstruct justice.

Again, no. There is a relatively new law which was introduced around the time when we were arrested, which is prohibiting any commenting on the ongoing trials as not to "influence" them. As far as I know first people that this law was used against, and I think nobody else is still charged with it as it is still very controversial here in Serbia, are ASI members and friends (as well as with few other laws that ASI was/is first/only victim of - such as "International terrorism" charge, the case of the publicly burnt US flag when Biden was here /10 days of prison/, and a case which was recently started against some ASI Novi Sad comrades for "Destruction of state property" /somebody wrote anti-privatization graffiti on a regional parliament building and signed it with "ASI"/).

jesuithitsquad
Jun 17 2010 03:44

best to all of you.

Valeriano Orobó...
Jun 18 2010 15:46

Great news, all my support.

Rob Ray
Jun 18 2010 16:10
Quote:
There is a relatively new law which was introduced around the time when we were arrested, which is prohibiting any commenting on the ongoing trials as not to "influence" them.

We've got something similar in Britain with the contempt of court laws but there's a lot of factors to weigh up which affect the punishments, all the way from a warning to jail time, depending on things like whether a jury is likely to be influenced, where the comment/information was published, how large the audience was likely to be etc. Is the new law like that or does it affect all comment regardless of potential impact?

rata
Jun 18 2010 18:22
Rob Ray wrote:
Quote:
There is a relatively new law which was introduced around the time when we were arrested, which is prohibiting any commenting on the ongoing trials as not to "influence" them.

We've got something similar in Britain with the contempt of court laws but there's a lot of factors to weigh up which affect the punishments, all the way from a warning to jail time, depending on things like whether a jury is likely to be influenced, where the comment/information was published, how large the audience was likely to be etc. Is the new law like that or does it affect all comment regardless of potential impact?

In fact this law is probably quite similar to the laws in different EU countries dealing with obstruction of court's work, and it was supposed to be used against alleged serious threats to judges by mafia etc. The thing is that, just like in BG6 case, state is intentionally using hard laws, that they know they can not end up winning, in order to exercise repression against our organization and comrades. What comrades from Vrsac did was to place posters on boards which are designated for placing up posters in city of Vrsac, and the "investigation" of their case just ended up several weeks ago, even if they were arrested in October last year. At that time their arrest and start of the investigation provoked some 30 legal experts and public figures here to prosecute themselves in court for the same "crime", as they were participating in the public round table which was discussing BG6 case and their opinion is that they have committed the same "crime" as Vrsac comrades. (link in Serbian)

On the other hand, case of the comrade from Croatia is even more bizarre. He, and another companera from Austria, was arrested during our first public hearing in February for having that peace of paper, displayed in the hole of the Court, in front of TV cameras, and later leaning it against the window of the courtroom. This companera had payed the 500 euros fine (but not for the alleged "crime": she has paid 500 euros for "humanitarian purposes" and Court "forgave" her the "crime"), as she had to get back for her work and studies in Austria, but Croatian comrade decided to fight the unjust accusation. The judge, which is the guy who just released us, has testified in front of investigative judge, that he was not obstructed in anyway by this act. So the investigative judge decided to drop the case against our comrade, but prosecutor has complained, and now our comrade, whose passport has been taken away in February, is still waiting for the decision of the higher court.

Interesting recent developments include public weeping over "millions" that will have to be paid to us for illegal imprisonment. (Again, link is in Serbian)

Steven.
Jun 22 2010 19:58

this is amazing news, nice one.

rata in your last post you touch on a question I was going to ask: are you going to sue these fuckers? Or will you be able to?

OliverTwister
Jun 23 2010 06:38

This is really excellent to hear!

rata
Jul 6 2010 15:11
Steven. wrote:
rata in your last post you touch on a question I was going to ask: are you going to sue these fuckers? Or will you be able to?

Hey comrade, sorry for the late reply, but just saw the question now - we are preparing a whole set of lawsuits against the people responsible for our illegal arrest and detention. We will sue everybody involved in the "international terrorism" story, starting with Minister of police who was publicly claiming that there are DNA evidence against us (of course, in court there was no evidence of that or any other kind at all), head of the Prosecutor's office who has decided to prosecute us for international terrorism, all investigation judges who have kept that qualification in the process, and of course the media who have published our pictures and full names, describing us as terrorists, members of secret cells of Greek anarchist terrorist organizations, our organization as terrorist, etc.

By definition, since we are acquitted, we have a right to get some money for being kept in prison - between 50 and 100 euros per day and we are still discussing launching a lawsuit against state for that (which usually ends up with much larger amounts being paid) - but we are aware that this process would take at least a year or more to finish, so we still haven't decided on the course of action in that case...

Steven.
Jul 6 2010 16:14

yeah, go for it! And good luck, I know lawsuits can take a very long time (I have been involved in one against the police here for over seven years now)

rata
Jul 7 2010 12:25
Steven1 wrote:
yeah, go for it! And good luck, I know lawsuits can take a very long time (I have been involved in one against the police here for over seven years now)

On a "funny" side, we are thinking of starting a lawsuit against Vignoles and their magazine too, since they reported on our case by reproducing police claim that we were involved in the attack.

Devrim
Jul 7 2010 13:14

Congratulations Rata, all the best to you and you comrades.

Devrim

rata
Jul 8 2010 00:59
Devrim wrote:
Congratulations Rata, all the best to you and you comrades.

Thanks compa...