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SERBIA&MONTENEGRO: Conscientious objector went into hiding

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  • Serbia
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Serbian conscientious objector Milan Gligoric fled from the barracks and went into hiding on 12 April 2003. Milan Gligoric, a Jehovah's Witness from Ljubovija, was sentenced on 12 December to 4 month suspended sentence, with 2 years parole period. He received a new call up to the army in February 2003, ordering him to report to the military barracks on 4 March 2003. Milan Gligoric is prepared to perform an alternative service of genuine civilian nature, but such a service is at present not available in Serbia and Montenegro. However, he does not accept an unarmed service in the military economic institutions of the Yugoslav Army. After arriving in the barracks on 4 March, Milan Gligoric again explained his position, and applied for conscientious objection. According to the new constitution of Serbia&Montenegro, and the Charta on Human and Minority Rights and Civil Liberties of Serbia and Montenegro, the right to conscientious objection is recognised, and no-one is obliged to fullfil military duties or any other duty that involves the use of arms if this is contrary to one's beliefs. Milan Gligoric was ordered to stay in the barracks, but he was not wearing a uniform, and didn't perform any military duties. On 7 March and on 12 March, Milan Gligoric was brought to the Investigative Court in Nis. There they allowed him to apply for alternative civilian service. He was told that he would get an answer within 7 days - and that he would have to wait for the answer in the barracks. During all this time Milan Gligoric was not allowed to leave the barracks - not even on weekends. The only possibility for him to leave the barracks would have been to give an oath - the normal military oath. Of course, Milan Gligoric refused to give an oath. On 11 April - one month after his court appearance - Milan Gligoric left the barracks without permission. The same day he received a call on his mobile ordering him to come back to the barracks. The same happened one day later - prompting Milan Gligoric to turn off his mobile phone. Milan Gligoric is not willing to return to the barracks, as there is still no answer from the Ministry of Defence on where he should serve his alternative civilian service. Once the Ministry has found a place for him, he is willing to start serving immediately. In Serbia&Montenegro, military police starts looking for deserters 3 days after they left the unit without permission. They have to arrest him and bring him back to the unit, where the commander of the barracks decides on what kind of action will be taken.

It has to be feared that Milan Gligoric will be charged with desertion, and prosecuted. This can lead to imprisonment. As Milan Gligoric was already sentenced to 4 months imprisonment (suspended sentence), these 4 months will then be added to his sentence.

War Resisters' International calls protest letters to the Council of Ministers: Savet Ministara
11070 Novi Beograd
Palata Federacije
Bulevar Mihajla Pupina 2
tel +385-11-311 7138
fax +381-11-636 775

A protest email can also be sent to General Branko Krga, Chief of General Staff at the Headquarters of the Army of Serbia & Montenegro at genstaffinfo@vj.yu. A protest email can also be sent using the mail form at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20030417a.html .

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International