Scandals: A Tribe of Warlords
The assault of an eminent Serbian reporter, Milovan Brkic, is another drop in an ocean of lawlessness flooding this country. The incident has made it crystal clear that Yugoslavia is divided into two separate states: one in which common citizens have to respect the law, the authorities and the judicial system, and another called the Mickey Mouse state owned by those who are above the law – a new tribe of warlords and gangsters which emerged from the ruins of an era girding the police, common criminals and paramilitary forces into a frightening coalition. The latter is a state in which the nouveau riche have the power to lynch, rob and even kill anyone they see fit with the consent of the authorities and sometimes in the presence of them. That was quite apparent long before Milovan Brkic, a reporter of the weekly Srpska Rec, was taken away from his office by men who identified themselves as members of the state security police department. (...)
Milovan Brkic has had the reputation of someone who likes to "stick his nose" into things that aren’t his business since the early seventies. A "controversial" character (a favourite expression of the authorities for people like him) who likes to rock the boat, cause scandals, get involved in law suits passionately and relentlessly. Some say that Brkic is often an unbearable pain in the neck. Perhaps he is to some individuals, such as Aleksandar Tijanic – the new information minister and himself, a former journalist.
Tijanic’s statement that he would have beaten the hell out of Brkic had he been there should bear no lawful or political significance: being "controversial", "unbearable" and a "pain in the neck" is not against the law. What should and surely will send shivers through the bones of every sane individual is the fact that offenses such as false arrest, grave bodily harm and rape often go unpunished. A minister who says he would have stopped the police from beating Brkic and done it himself instead – for the latter is "nothing more than an individual who has been declared mentally unfit for compulsory military service" – is a cynical and arrogant person with cheap manners. More importantly, he has no respect whatsoever for the law he has sworn to protect under oath. (...)
The mentioning of Brkic’s "mental unfitness" also came at a very inconvenient time, for Brkic is currently involved in a law suit with the president’s son, Marko Milosevic, who is suing Brkic and his magazine for slander. According to Brkic, who says he actually did complete his military service in 1981, Milosevic junior was recently relieved of military service for reasons similar to the one mentioned above. All that, nevertheless, is nothing more than a bunch of spicy, colorful details often deliberately exploited to cover up the real issue: Can everyone with the ability to pull strings in the police have someone arrested, detained, beaten and killed for would-be slander? Is it becoming a reality that individuals not to the liking of an army of scumbags above the law will just disappear into the night without a trace? Many questions of vital importance to the citizens of this country need urgent answers which will in many ways determine the fate of this regime. Our regime did not invent the model by which this country is ruled: there are a number of historic precedents, and we all know what happened to them. The issue is therefore not only about one Milovan Brkic, a local reporter who might not be perfect, for none of us are and no law says that someone has to be perfect. The issue is about law and the respect for it. Slander is against the law, and so is false arrest, grave bodily harm and rape. A state calling itself lawful must apply the law impartially to all its individuals – including Milovan Brkic and those who abducted and abused him.
Milos Vasic VREME No. 264 October 28, 1996
A five minute break. Round two starts. The hose is pointed at me and the water stops me from breathing. Their boots and shoes strike me. I breathe with difficulty. I put my hands up to stop the water from getting into my mouth. They stop the water but round three begins. They place a plastic bag over my head several times and while I lose my breath they strike me on the shoulders. I burst the bag and they put on a new one. How long did it all last? It seemed like centuries. A fearsome pain in my chest. A final pause while they confer. Nothing happens for five minutes and then they come back. Fifteen young men who I am sure are policemen piss on my head. They took me out, naked, and put me in a manhole. It’s freezing cold. A long pause. I tried to find something to kill myself with but there were no stones, just mud and two water pipes. I think I was in there for half an hour like a rat in a sewer. They raised the cover: ``Want us to kill you now or die in pain.’’ I kept quiet. ``OK. You’ll die in pain,’’ Limun said. I got out wanting to die quickly. I decided to try and strike my head against a wall to kill myself but there are five men around me. A new bath. They hit me while the hose is on me. I have no air, the pain stops my heartbeat. The water stops and Limun washes my hair with a sponge and five boys push the dirty sponge into my mouth. They put cigarettes out on my body. Another break. Some friendly advice: ``Who are you to write about Marko? Leave him alone.’’
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