Update: Good news! After five months in custody, the Six have been released from detention today during the court proceedings, with a new trial date set–conflicting sources say March 23 or 25th. Any additional information will be posted here when we receive it.
Six Serbian anarchists are due in court today charged with international terrorism in what Belgrade academics have condemned as a political trial.
Tadej Kurepa, Ivan Vulović, Sanja Dojkić, Ratibor Trivunac, Ivan Savic and Nikola Mitrovic, were detained on September 4th after a Molotov cocktail broke a window at the Greek Embassy in Belgrade.
Originally arrested for “causing general public danger,” an allegation often associated with low-level vandalism, the activists’ charges were upped to international terrorism following public comments by Serbian President Boris Tadic that he intended to crack down on “left-wing terrorism.”
The six face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the latest charges – more than double the sentence handed down for the burning to the ground of the US Embassy in 2008 in which one man was killed.
Academics at Belgrade University have condemned the trial, writing in an open letter: “We fear that this was an arbitrary interpretation of the Criminal Code and a case of its use for political purposes.
“Just in the year 2009 we have witnessed the escalation of violence and numerous threats of violence made by fascist groups. All of this was met with a mild reaction from the state prosecution and the police.
“To name just one example: in the days leading up to the Belgrade Gay Pride Parade (set for September 20th and called off due to security fears) threats of physically liquidating the gay population were called just ‘polemics’ by a representative of the state.”
All of the six detainees are activists in or associates of the Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative (ASI), the Serbian section of the International Workers’ Association (IWA). The ASI is part of a growing, independent union movement in Serbia and supporters say this is a political trial aimed at derailing that growth.
The attack itself has been claimed by a group called Crni Ilja, who said it was in solidarity with a Greek anarchist on hunger strike. No members of that group have as yet been positively identified.
The Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative has declared that they knew nothing of the attack or the group that carried it out. Ratibor Trivunac has repeatedly stated that throwing molotov cocktails is not a method of struggle used by the group.
A spokesperson for the Solidarity Federation, British section of the International Workers Association, said: “We unreservedly condemn the trial as a political attempt by the rulers of Serbia to silence an effective radical movement. Members of SF and other IWA sections are going to Belgrade for the trial to show support for our imprisoned comrades.”