In 2004, in the Serbian town of Temerin, five youngsters, all Hungarian nationals, got into a fight with a man, called Zoran Petrovic (38). The boys were out having a good time when they were picked on by Zoran Petrovic, an alcoholic and drug addict. A fight erupted where Zoran Petrovic seriously injured; though, it couldn't be unequivocally proven that all of his injuries were fight related.
The boys were questioned by Serbian police as witnesses, then charged with assault and attempted murder and sentenced to a combined jail term of 61 years. István Máriás (22) received 15 years, Zsolt Illés (26) 13 years, Zoltán Szakáll (25) 11 years and 6 months, József Uracs (29) 11 years and 6 months and Árpád Horváth (19) 10 years.
According to human rights activists in in Serbia, the draconian sentence served a political purpose. Serbian authorities wanted to divert the attention of the international community from the atrocities committed against Hungarians in Vojvodina and possibly intimidating the Hungarian community. The attacks against Hungarian nationals have been continuing ever since.
To see the double standards used by Serbian courts, consider the following cases.
In the town of Magyarkanizsa, a Serbian national shot József Sarnyai five times and received 6 year jail term. Another incident, six Serbian men threw a Hungarian man into the Danube river trying to kill him. The six attackers received a combined sentence of 15 years for attempted murder. A few years ago, two Serbian men assaulted a Hungarian national, Mátyás Kovács; as a result of the attack, the man's spleen had to be removed. The attackers were sentenced to 1 year and 10 months and 6 months jail term. The examples could be continued but these few cases suffice to show the double standards Serbian courts use when sentencing Hungarian nationals.
According to witnesses, when Zoran Petrovic arrived to town, he was already drunk or under the influence of drugs. He visited many discos but was thrown out because insulted the guests. He couldn't pinpoint who he had a fight with and didn't remember how he got to the place where he got into trouble. Despite this and other inconsistencies, Serbian police fabricated an attempted murder case from a simple street fight to which the Serbian media provided the publicity. The media portrayed the five boys as beasts. As a result, they received a total sentence of 61 years, a sentence not even war criminals used to get.
For the sake of fairness, we have to say that the treasonous Gyurcsany regime made no effort to get involved in the process in behalf of the boys and their families. But the days of this government are numbered. A year from now, there will be a new government in Hungary that I am sure will work with Serbian authorities to rectify this outrageous injustice. There is cause for optimism.
The statement of the families of the five youngsters
We are the parents and family members of the five young men that received a draconian sentence of 10 to 15 years each, unjustly. We, the parents of István Máriás, Zsolt Illés, Zoltán Szakáll, József Uracs and Árpád Horváth have never denied that our sons responsible for what they did. But we cannot accept the draconian sentences they received. Our sons have been serving their sentences for 29 months, in the prison of Sremska Mitrovica, for a street fight in a market place that police labeled as attempted murder and the court approved it. The Serbian political situation greatly contributed to the fact that the court imposed such a harsh prison term on our sons. As a reminder, let us say that when our sons got into fight with the violent drug dealer that was the time when Hungarians in Vojvodina were physically attacked, en mass, and the Hungarian civil rights movements spoke out against the violence and the inability of police and the court to prevent the attacks. The trial of our sons took place behind closed doors. The court used double standards when sentencing our children. In police custody our sons were maltreated and were forbidden to use their mother tongue. All appeals against the harsh sentences were rejected and the highest court of Serbia approved the sentence.
In our letters, we are asking you to help to free our children and assist the poverty stricken families if you can. Two and half years of legal wranglings broke us, financially. We are now forced to collect social assistance; yet, we continue our straggle for justice and freedom by trying to get a new trial.
Your financial contribution can help our endeavor to continue our straggle and get a new trial. We are asking you to publicize this letter wherever you can and bring it to the attention of others. We have an International and a local bank accounts for contributions. We thank you for all contributions.
Respectfully, the parents and the families of the boys of Temerin: the Horvath, the Máriás, the Szakáll, the Uracs and the Illés families.
International account :
21235 - TEMERIN
The name of the bank: MERIDIAN BANK AD
S.W.I.F.T. code :MEBACS22
IBAN code: CS73330103020050501868
Local account for Serbian currency
21235 - TEMERIN
Name of the Bank: MERIDIAN BANK AD
Human Rights Center
Mob.tel.: + 381 63 8662 442
21 480, Szenttamás
Zeleni Venac 7/3
Comments: You can also contribute by getting in touch with the "firstname.lastname@example.org" or call the 06-70-379-9014 mobil number of Pétert Szilvási.
The pictures of this site have been created by Eduardo Rózsa Flores and they can be downloaded from his blog. I translated them into English.