Serb court jails Flora Brovina for 12 years!!!

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Fri, 10 Dec 1999 09:48:43 -0500


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/World/Europe/serb101299.shtml

THE INDEPENDENT, London, December 10, 1999
Serb court jails doctor who aided Kosovo women
By Vesna Peric Zimonjic in Nis, Yugoslavia

An Albanian doctor, regarded as a champion of humanitarian causes in Kosovo,
was sentenced to 12 years in prison yesterday by a Serbian court.
In a ruling which stunned human rights organisations, Flora Brovina, an
eminent paediatrician, was found guilty on charges of "conspiring to commit
hostile acts" and "terrorism" aimed at the secession of Kosovo from Serbia
and Yugoslavia.

The prosecution unexpectedly added charges against Dr Brovina at the last
minute alleging that she was involved in the establishment of "Kosovo
Liberation Army [KLA] military hospitals when Yugoslavia was in a "state of
war". Although now disbanded, the KLA is regarded as a terrorist
organisation by the Belgrade authorities. Dr Brovina, a founder of the
League of Albanian Women denied all the charges.

The evidence against Dr Brovina included a photograph of her with a man in
KLA uniform, medical items allegedly confiscated from her properly
registered private clinic and wool donated by the British charity Oxfam. The
wool was used for knitting sweaters by women who found shelter in Dr
Brovina's vicinity, after fleeing other areas of Kosovo during Nato air
raids.

Additional evidence presented by the prosecution yesterday included
statements the doctor made on her arrest without her lawyers present. Dr
Brovina told the court that after 18 interrogating sessions each lasting
eight hours she would have "signed anything, just to end the questions".
Dr Brovina's case been singled out by the US State Department and the New
York based human rights defence organisation Human Rights Watch. She became
a rallying point for the campaign to free all Albanian prisoners transferred
from Kosovo to Serb jails.

Dr Brovina's husband Ajri Begu, 48, said: "It was not Flora who was put on
trial it was the medical profession. It was a trial against all the brave
people, humanists, who stood in the way of the regime, be it by accident, be
it intentionally, at bad times." Dr Brovina's two sisters cried openly in
front of the court in Nis, Serbia's third biggest city.
Nikola Barovic, a Belgrade lawyer and adviser to the United Nations High
Commission for Refugees said that no valid evidence against Dr Brovina was
presented. "In Stalin's times one got 10 years for nothing. Here one gets
12."

Dr Brovina was arrested at the door of her Pristina home on 20 April by
eight Serbian policemen, interrogated at Lipljan prison in Kosovo and later
only aim in all her activities was "to help people, as a doctor, no matter
what nation or religion they belonged to".

She added that she regretted not being in Kosovo now, as thousands of Serbs
were being expelled from their homes in revenge for atrocities against ethnic
Albanians during Nato air strikes. "I would urge all Albanian intellectuals
to raise their voices and speak out against violence and in favour of
reconciliation. As a woman, I would offer my hand to Serb women as that is
what women should do  build bridges, help."