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<nettime> Yugoslav Terrorism Act
Ivo Skoric on 29 Jun 2000 19:11:11 -0000


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<nettime> Yugoslav Terrorism Act


This is the comment of new Yugoslav Antiterrorist Law (to be introduced
tommorrow) alleged borrowing from the Western anti- terrorist
legislation - namely Italian - it is written by long standing Yugoslav
correspondent from Rome, Inoslav Besker: 

Even when faced with more than 1,000 victims during the terrorist "plumb
years" (1969-1984), Italy did not try to suspend the elementary civil
rights based on habeas corpus praxis. It was obvious that the main goal
of the Italian terrorists was to force the country into a state of
emergency. 

The parties of the so-called Constitutional Arch (those which had
written the Constitution of Republic) were determinated in preserving
the democracy with its elementary civil rights, so that after the
kidnapping of a former Prime Minister Aldo Moro (eventually killed) even
the Communist Party entered the majority of the Andreotti's so called
National Unity government. 

In the first period, until 1979, the Italian Parliament introduced some
new incriminations (for instance: terrorist association), restricted
several procedural rights of processed people (possibility to process
somebody even when he is expelled from the court room because of
physical or verbal violence in the court, incompatible with the due
process of justice), gave powers to the police to arrest the people who
refuse to identify themselves, or to search not only a flat, but a
building or a block, and even to ask some summary information without
the presence of an attorney. 

In 1977 were instituted the maximum-security prisons for the condemned
for cruel crimes (not only terrorist, but Mafia ones too). Afterwards
the Parliament introduced favours (included the liberty and changed
identity) for "penitents", i.e. criminals ready to admit guilt and give
up their accomplices, and in 1987 to repented terrorists. From 1984, on
the Parliament granted new rights to indicted persons, introducing new
limits to the duration of preventive custody (before the indictment and
>before the definitive verdict). 

There is no liaison between the Italian antiterrorist measures, limited
to the seven worst years from 1977 and 1984, and the new Yugoslav law,
only apparently antiterrorist. Inoslav Besker, Rome 


This is an article on new law itself which is going to be published by
Gazeta Wyborcza of Warsaw tommorrow on Friday, June 30; forwarded by
Milos Vasic: 

Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2000 14:41:12 -0400 

Yugoslavia 

Terrorism Act To Be Introduced Friday 

Yugoslav Federal Government sent Tuesday the draft of the new
anti-terrorist legislation to the Federal Parliament. The move is widely
regarded as another step towards open dictatorship of president Slobodan
Milosevic, because the legal circles describe the draft as 'redundant'
and 'definitely dangerous'. The Terrorism Act doesn't add anything new
to the already existing legal provisions against terrorism, present in
Yugoslav Criminal Code since 1973, when the country signed the UN
Resolution against international terrorism and adapted its laws to it.
Instead, this Act will severely endanger the already frail human and
legal rights of suspect, detained, indicted and convicted persons.
According to most lawyers and professors of law, the Act is
un-constitutional and in colision with the existing Criminal Code and
Criminal Procedures Code, as well as with many international conventions
and pacts signed by the Yugoslav state. 

A University professor described it as 'definitive departure from the
rule of law, outragious and dictatorial'. 

The draft of the Act avoids carefully any precise definition of its key
terms, like 'terrorism', 'conspiracy', 'support', 'hostile intention'
etc., leaving a wide interpretation margin to police, state attorneys
and courts. 

The key words are 'threat to constitutional order and territorial
integrity' with no further explanations of what that 'threats' consist
of. 

The draft introduces 'preventive custody' for suspects or persons
suspected of evil intentions of up to 30 days; present Constitutional
limit is 24 hours, exceptionally prolonged to 72 hrs (of course, the
police always keeps people for 72 hrs...). Special attention is given to
non-violent aspects of 'terrorism': distribution and even possession of
'terrorist propaganda' in all forms - written, pictorial, electronic -
is punisheable by three to twelve years of prison; 'enticing to
distribute, to keep for distribution or to make available means of
distribution' of propaganda carriers will be punished by 10 - 20 years.
The maximal penalty under the Act is prison for life. For the first time
a witness is subject to coercion: refusal to bear testimony in court is
treated as contempt of court and the witness may be jailed for 30 days
(legal concept totally strange to continental law). Defense attorneys
and other participants in trials - including witnesses, expert witnesses
and accused - are bound by State Secret Protection Act not to divulge
the contents of the case. 

Another novelty caused considerable alarm among lawyers, retired police
officers and politicians: for the first time the concept of provocation
is built into Yugoslav legislation and encouraged by it. The Terrorism
Act states that a person who engages in terrorist activities 'with the
intention to help discovering and arresting perpetrators of terrorist
activities' will not be prosecuted 'if such a person notifies the State
Attorney in advance'. In other words, agents-provocateurs will be free
to organise their own terrorist groups and fish for naive and romantic
youths to join them; they may even plant a bomb or two to 'establish
credibility' and then have the naive and romantic serve long prison
terms. 

Such 'sting' operations are standard practice in law enforcement, but
they are conducted by police officers and not amateurs, under strict
control and in democratic countries. 

Political implications are obvious. The very idea of such a legislation
appeared last fall, coinciding with the rise of student movement Otpor!
(Resistance!). The authors of the idea are from JUL (Yugoslav United
Left), political party of Slobodan Milosevic's wife Mira Markovic, the
same people who are used to play on the string of fear and paranoia, so
dear to the Ruling Family. The same people invented at least three
conspiracies to assassinate Milosevic; all three misfired in courts; the
same people keep inventing planetary conspiracies against Serbs and
feeding the general paranoid and isolationist hysteria. Two remaining
members of the ruling coalition in Serbia - Milosevic's SPS (Socialist
Party of Serbia) and extreme right-wing chauvinist SRS (Serb Radical
Party) of Dr.  Vojislav Seselj - have been less than enthusiastic about
the Act. Radicals have even opposed it; cynical observers say it's a
natural reaction, because if there is a terrorist organisation in
Serbia, it's them. That may be one of the reasons why the Act wasn't
submitted to Serbian Parliament, but to the Federal one: Radicals are
too strong in the former. Another reason is Montenegro: the Act as
drafted targets that Republic and its democratically elected leadership.
Montenegro doesn' recognize either the Federal Government or the Federal
Parliament anyway and has accused Milosevic of cheap trickery. 

The primary targets of the Act obviously are Serbian opposition,
students' movement Otpor!, the remaining independent media and anybody
who is against Milosevic. To be totally clear, the Terrorism Act
threatens anybody who 'approves in public acts described as terrorist'
by sentences ranging from 6 months to five years of prison. The emphasis
on the non-violent, verbal, aspects of 'terrorism' can only mean that
Milosevic wants to impose silence. The Federal Government claims that
'experience of democratic states like USA, Great Britain, France, Italy
and Ireland' were applied to the draft; but all those countries were or
are faced with serious terrorist threats and Serbia is not. Acts of
terror in Serbia have been committed for past ten years by parties of
the present ruling coalition, by secret police and state-controlled
paramilitaries. 

Friday, the Federal Parliament, Milosevic's rubber-stamp assembly, will
vote and Serbia will have her Terrorism Act (Montenegro doesn' care); it
remains only to find some 'terrorists' and throw the book at them. It
won't be difficult: for many months already the regime propaganda and
highest officials claim that unarmed and non-violent youths from Otpor!
'terrorise' Serbia by their T-shirts, stickers, leflets and grafitti
displaying the fist, their symbol. 

Milos Vasic 

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