SERBIA&MONTENEGRO: Conscientious objector arrested by military police


A few hours ago conscientious objector Nikola Kovacevic (YU13852) has been arrested by military police. He will be tried for "leaving the unit without permission", probably already on Monday or Tuesday. Nikola Kovacevic applied for conscientious objector status in May 2003. As there was no genuine civilian substitute service at that time, he was sent to a military economic organisation at Karadjordjevo. There he was forced to work in a slaughterhouse, which he refused on several occasions. On 1 August 2003 he was supposed to get transferred to a different military economic institution in Batajnica, near Belgrade. He got a weekend off, so he returned home. However, on the weekend Nikola Kovacevic was informed that he won't be transferred, and he was given the order to return to Karadjordjevo on Monday. Nikola Kovacevic decided to stay at home. Before he had left for his weekend off, he had given all his contact details to his superior. Nevertheless, the military police started to look for him at his parents address for more than two months. Only today they decided to try at the address that Nikola Kovacevic had left with his superior, where they found him and arrested him. He was told that he would be brought to the military economic institution in Karadjordjevo, but he was brought to the Military Court in Belgrade instead. A member of Antimilitarist Manufacture, a CO group in Serbia, spoke to him on his mobile phone, and Nikola Kovacevic said that he expects to be kept in custody over the weekend. He is being charged with "leaving his unit without permission", and expects to be tried at the Military Court in Belgrade on Monday or Tuesday. Regulations for a genuine civilian substitute service in Serbia and Montenegro were only introduced on 27 August 2003. Before, conscientious objection was only recognised in the constitution, but there were no regulations or law to implement CO. However, after pressure from CO groups, many COs were allowed to serve in so-called military economic organisations, which allowed for unarmed service within the military.

War Resisters' International calls for urgent letters of protest to the Serbia&Montenegro authorities, or embassies abroad. Send letters/emails/faxes to:

Mr Boris Tadic
Minster of Defense for Serbia and Montenegro Belgrade
Fax +381-11-2665 043

General Branko Krga
Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of Serbia and Montenegro email genstaffinfo@vj.yu
(a protest email can be sent at

A list of Serbia and Montenegro embassies can be found at

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Nikola Kovacevic.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International