Serbian anarchists were celebrating yesterday as the Belgrade High Court finally cleared six people of trumped-up “international terrorism” charges after an eight-year legal battle.
Belgrade’s Higher Court’s ruling means that members of Serbia’s Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative (ASI) and several other activists have been formally exonerated of guilt for an attack which took place against the Greek embassy in Belgrade in 2009.
Sanja Dojkić, Ivan Savic, Ratibor Trivunac, Nikola Mitrovic, Tadej and Ivan Vulovic were first arrested on September 3rd 2009 on suspicion of participating in an action against the embassy in support of arrested Greek comrades and initially charged with “causing public danger.”
The attack on August 25th, which saw two Molotov cocktails thrown at the building and a circled A painted on a wall, was claimed by anarchist group Black Elijah in solidarity with imprisoned Greek comrades on hunger strike.
The six, who had no prior links to Black Elijah, were detained for six months before acting Public Prosecutor Slobodan Radovanovic got personally involved in the prosecution and changed the charges to “international terrorism.” In a statement, ASI-MUR said:
It soon became clear that the intention of the prosecution that the case would be used for settling of accounts with our organisation and have ASI declared a “terrorist organisation.”
Although all the arrested are not members of our union, the prosecution notes in the first version of the indictment claimed just that, trying to prove that our organisation, as well as a phantom Greek Association of ASI were involved in the alleged attack.
Of course, one of the key reasons for raising the indictment was the fact that ASI during this period was performing the duty of Secretariat for the International Workers Association (IWA), thereby contributing to the international coordination not of “terrorists” but fighting union organisations from around the world.
Among those arrested was Ratibor Trivunac, who at that time held the post of Secretary General of the IWA, and a friend who at that time held the position of International Secretary of ASI.
The jailing of the Belgrade Six sparked an international campaign for their release, including from academic groups within Serbia which strongly criticised the authorities for failing to provide any strong legal arguments for conviction.
In 2010, after a hard-fought campaign and amid a collapsing State legal effort, the six won their first acquittal. However a year on, as 2011 protests took place against NATO in Belgrade, the government allowed the prosecution appeal and the trial was re-opened. ASI notes:
Due to the proverbially chaotic justice system, and with the obvious intention of keeping our organisation under pressure, trials continued for the next six years!
This judgement puts an end to nearly eight years of harassment of our comrades, and this form of State pressure on our organisation. ASI continues to fight for the creation of mass direct democracy and a revolutionary workers’ movement without compromising with bosses and the State. Our message to the enemies of the liberation of the working class remains one and unchanging: Death to State and capitalism!