NGO and its founder ordered to pay damages to army chief
The First Basic Court in Belgrade has ordered the Humanitarian Law Center (FHP) and Natasa Kandic to pay RSD 550,000 (EUR 4,480) in damages to Ljubisa Dikovic.Source: B92, Tanjug
Dikovic is the chief-of-the-general-staff of the Serbian Army (VS).
The NGO and Kandic must pay compensation for publishing false allegations in their "Dossier Ljubisa Dikovic."
The first instance verdict, which the Fund and Kandic can appeal, partially accepted Dikovic's claim, the NGO announced on Tuesday.
The army chief asked to be awarded compensation of RSD 1 million "for suffering mental anguish due to the violation of his honor and reputation caused by a public presentation of incorrect accusations and value judgments that have offensive connotations and violate human dignity."
In its 2012 "dossier" the NGO claimed that Yugoslav Army (VS) troops under Dikovic's command committed war crimes during the war in Kosovo.
According to the FHP, the First Basic Court's ruling contains several contradictory and paradoxical conclusions on the merits of the allegations in the said files, i.e., on their basis in evidence.
"On the one hand, the court held that the burden of proof for the claims about General Dikovic's involvement in war crimes was on the defendants - the FHP and Natasa Kandic, and on the other, it refused to hear witnesses proposed by the defendants, on the grounds that the resolution of this issue was under the jurisdiction of the court for war crimes."
"At the same time, the court rejected the motion of the defendants to terminate the litigation proceedings for precisely those reasons, until the conclusion of a preliminary investigation of the war crimes prosecution in connection with the criminal charges filed by the FHP," said the Fund.
The NGO added that the court found the statements of Kandic, at the time FHP's director, about Dikovic's "impure war past" to have been value judgments - but ones not based on sufficient factual basis.
"At the same time, the court accepted the testimonies of Natasa Kandic and Sandra Orlovic regarding the creation of the said dossier, and found it to be an indisputable fact that its sources were 'the FHP databases, the evidence used in the cases before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and VJ military documents'," a statement said.
The FHP agrees with the court's assessment that the factual allegations set out in the dossier and in Kandic's statements have not been proven during the proceedings before the court, "but does not agree with the explanation that determining the veracity of the disputed factual allegations would lead to unlawful interference of a civil court's jurisdiction into that of a criminal court."