Serbia sends anti-Gay neo-Nazis to prison
 

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posted Friday, April 22, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 16

Serbia sends anti-Gay neo-Nazis to prison
by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Fourteen leaders of the Serbian neo-Nazi organization Obraz were sentenced to prison terms by Serbia's Higher Court in Belgrade on April 20.

All had been charged in connection with riots they instigated at Belgrade's 2010 Pride Parade.

Obraz leader Mladen Obradovic was sentenced to two years in prison for organizing the riots.

His wife Jelena was sentenced to a year, and Obraz members Krsta Milovanovic and Damir Grbic to a year and a half in prison.

The remaining 13 defendants received sentences ranging from eight months to a year and a half.

The sentences handed down were reportedly minimum sentences. Maximum jail time for the acts they committed is 12 years.

Obradovic and the other 13 defendants were accused of organizing a group which deliberately caused riots at the Belgrade Pride Parade last year.

More than 5,000 riot police were deployed by the Serbian government to separate the Pride marchers from the neo-Nazi group.

Neo-Nazis hurled Molotov cocktails, bottles, and bricks. Police retaliated with tear gas to disperse attackers.

The Serbian government later said that 124 police officers and 17 rioters were injured in the fighting.

Afterward, 249 people were detained by the police, including 49 minors, with 100 remanded in custody for violent behavior and looting.

At the trial, prosecutors said that the defense claim that the accused were motivated by their devotion to the Serbian Orthodox Church was unacceptable, and that their actions amounted to anti-Gay discrimination and rioting.

The prosecution said in its closing argument that the Obraz slogan, 'We will fight with all means,' is not in the spirit of Orthodox Christianity.

The defense claimed that the defendants had been on their way to pray, not to riot.

Defense lawyers accused Serbian authorities of causing the riots and claimed that the trial represented political persecution of their clients.

The Serbian Republic Public Prosecutor filed a motion to ban the extreme-right organization Obraz two years ago, claiming that its members were inciting hatred and discrimination.

The Constitutional Court still has not ruled on it.

Serbia has applied for membership in the European Union, and its government is eager to show that it will comply with the European Convention on Human Rights, which all EU members must uphold.



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