Serbian letter
Mon, 24 Nov 97 14:22:56 -0500

Human Rights Watch/Helsinki
485 Fifth Ave.
NY, NY. 10017
Telephone: 212-972-8400
Facsimile: 212-972-0905

President Slobodon Milosevic
Prime Minister Radoje Kontic
Minister of Justice Zoran Knezevic
Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marijanovic
Serbian Minister of Justice Arandjel Markicevic
Acting President of the Serbian Supreme Court Balsa Govedarica
President of the District Court of Belgrade Bratislav Tocanac
Prosecutor of the Fed Republic of Yugoslavia Vukasin Jokanovic
Prosecutor of the Republic of Serbia Dragan Petkovic
Belgrade District Prosecutor Miodrag Tusic
U.S. Embassy in Belgrade
Serbian and international media

The Death of Nikola Nikolic

November 25, 1997

Dear Sirs:

Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, the largest American-based human
rights organization, has been informed about a criminal complaint
filed with the Belgrade prosecutor by Mr. and Mrs. Slobodan
Nikolic, the parents of Nikola Nikolic, who died on April 19,
1994. According to the Belgrade police, Nikola Nikolic died as a
result of a ten-story fall from his Belgrade apartment. The
Nikolic family, however, believes that their son may have died
from abuse inflicted by the Belgrade police.
This October, the Belgrade prosecutor dismissed the Nikolic's
complaint. But, after reviewing the relevant documents,
including the autopsy report, the on-site investigation report
and the criminal complaint, Human Rights Watch/Helsinki believes
that enough questions remain regarding the circumstances of
Nikola Nikolic's death to merit a trial. Inconsistencies in the
various police and medical reports could only be adequately
addressed in a court of law.
In addition, the Nikolic family reports that they have been
harassed and followed by the police since their son's death.
This reported harassment -- apparently intended to dissuade the
Nikoli family from pursuing their case -- lends credence to
their belief that Nikola Nikolic did not die from a fall, as the
police maintain.
Based on the evidence provided, Human Rights Watch/Helsinki
cannot conclusively state the cause of Nikola Nikolic's death.
However, we believe that the Belgrade prosecutor's decision to
dismiss the Nikolic family's criminal complaint does not take
into consideration the incomplete and inconsistent material
contained in the various reports. Human Rights Watch/Helsinki,
therefore, calls on the Serbian authorities to allow an
objective and impartial trial as soon as possible so that the
details of Nikola Nikolic's death may finally be brought to
light. We intend to continue following this case and would
appreciate being kept informed of any developments.


Holly Cartner
Human Rights Watch/Helsinki
Executive Director