About Custody in Belgrade

RebelMouse 25.08.2005 17:10 Themen: Repression
Info and comments about criminal custody in Belgrade.

About custody in Belgrade/Serbia

Comparatively with, right-wing, prisons for deportation of foreigners in EU, criminal custody in Belgrade (named by street: Bacvanska) is much worst. First ones exists for psychical torture of foreigners (for physical torture also if deportation was not successful), second ones exist for combination of both kind of torture. Although, there is inside one new built part of custody, named “Hayat” (like well-known hotel). This part is modern and there finish only privileged people (ex-president of Serbia: Milosevic, Legija (man who organized killing of prime-minister of Serbia, Zvezdan (assassinator who worked for Legija)) because they have support from politicians who try to keep old/ex -system…In Hayat they have everyday warm water, press-button to call watcher/guarder/keeper, etc…But I’ll speak here about old part of custody where are mostly people. I’ll try to write generally, based on my experience, without my personal story. I want to make this like info and some my comment about situation there…

First what somebody can experience when he come in custody, it is right-wing way of thinking at acceptance/receiving ward. Doc is not better, almost all watchers (they are called “commanders), and all imprisoned people. Every second sentence of imprisoned is: “everybody who is not Serbian should be killed”. Like a race who will be bigger xenophobic, with aim to be adapted in prison’s mentality. Question is who create such mentality there and who has benefits from it. Prisoners have a hope that they’ll succeed in life in the way like Arkan did it (with help of cooperation with secret agency, which is xenophobic also). The cell, in which I was, had about 30 quadrate meters and inside was 12 people. I heard from them there are cells with 14 people also. Short about conditions: person must buy everything in prison-shop, walls are old and wet, there is no warm water inside so for (fat) dishes people use cold water from drink-fountain which is in old kind of toilet, door has holes so when somebody use it whole cell stinks, because many people are inside often we must wait to use toilet… About conditions in Serbian prisons, you can read detailed at
reports of NGO “Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia” (they are the only one organization who got permission to visit prisons). But when they visit prisons, they can’t get info about relations between management and imprisoned people and between imprisoned people themselves.

First what new person experience is to get orders to wash toilet or cell, during time person “get” higher rating i.e. he start to wash dishes and later he get higher rating so he lead and control washing in cell. Old prisoners don’t need to do it and sometimes younger also (who have already longer time of prison) but it depend of will of chef in cell. It can be happen that new person meet some friend/acquaintance who is longer time in prison, so he can take him under protection, other respect it. If in cell come somebody who is too big and he will not wash anything (but they can’t beat him), then all people in cell demand that commander transfer this person in other cell. In that way, they make bed empty for new person. The worst situation is for people who are charged for raping. So, new persons in custody, and those who are physical weaker, while in other cells are effect the same rules, can make conflict with all in cell, can accept torture, can ask to go in cell for isolation, can heart themselves in order to finish in hospital of prison. One boy ate nails from wall, but commanders didn’t want to lead him to hospital more than two hours. Simply, if he finishes bad, he ate it with his will; all people in cell can make the same (similar) statement (so commander will not have responsibility and imprisoned people also). Anything could be happen to somebody, from cut of face from fighting to murder, everything is clear because all people from cell make almost the same statements. Therefore I don’t believe when I read in newspaper that somebody killed himself in cell. Prisoners are together in cell longer time, so they will be always united against new person and they have interest that new person clean cell. When somebody from abroad finish in this custody, he will experience money exploiting (one boy finished there from Italy and he bought every week box of Coca Cola for the mains in cell, one man who came from Denmark gave them sport-cloths, etc)…

Such situation is created by acceptance ward of custody, because they decide who goes in which cell. They mix knowingly people who are charged for little things with those who are charged for murders and organized crime. Those “bigger” realize unwritten rules which are obviously in interest of management of prison. Managements (police also) has such mentality that they think that custody should make fear at people, they believe that torture will change people. So, they believe that “little” criminals will give up from breaking of law because of fear from torture in police, in custody and in prison. Bigger get for it privileges (in prison maybe short out of punishment because management of prison give their opinion about prisoner when he apply for it). In “Bacvanska” custody, privileges are that commander give you warm water every evening, to help you to send “cigarettes” (or newspapers) in other cells (inside are messages), to give you info about other imprisoned people, to let you to give orders to weaker persons in front of him, to allow training in cell…etc. Therefore, “bigger” try always to toady/crouch to commander in order to make good relations with them.

If tortured person want to write something, mains read everything, when he is sent to wash hallway or bedroom other person goes with him. Bigger can give orders in front of commanders, but if bigger start to flaunt/peacock against commanders, he will be beaten (one or two days: 2-3 load tour beat him). It seems to me like relation between parents and children, they give them privileges and they allow them to torture others, but if they start to fuck commanders then they are beaten.

Mentality about conditions of life is such that it serves to management of prison. I heard many times: brother, they can put/push me in toilet, I’ll accept it (it is something like patriarchy: I am real/strong man). So, if somebody tries to bring conditions of life in question, all people will at once become skeptical and they’ll try to convince you that it is not possible to succeed about it. Radio is allowed from December 2004; in February 2004 people had one time weekly douche, in April 2005 two times weekly. All of this was succeeded from outside, through pressure on authority to make conditions better, imprisoned people don’t fight against management. Exception is when management or commander makes sanctions for some chef in cell. Then all other chefs make solidarity so it can come to protest in all cells (or they stop column at walking and whole column refuse orders of commanders). It means that protest in custody can start only mains in cells because others follow them objection. But, mains make very easily agreement with management. It exists mentioned symbiosis “parents-children”. Doctor is fine till moment when somebody start to strike, then she start to support management. Commanders try also to convince person to stop strike and they refuse to fill out demanding. Others don’t mix themselves but whole time they show skeptics about success of strike. As I said, it is not so when somebody who is chef make strike.

I can add that younger don’t run only for money but they run to be authority for other people, while older try to get somehow money. Those second can be tolerated, but those first are really bad for any kind of society.

I can conclude that custodies and prisons in Serbia are like colander. It stays bigger who later cooperate with cops and they make together money. After all, my conclusion is that mentality of cops and of bigger criminals is totally the same (from xenophobia to need to torture other and to be authority for others). There is no difference.

When somebody, who is libertarian activist, finish between four walls, it is very important that he get possibility to stay in contact with similar people outside, so it is important to send at least one time monthly letter to imprisoned activist. Prisons for deportations, as criminal custodies also, are very boring, especially after longer time (after several months). Boring and unsure situation produce nervous and isolation has for aim to separate person from others who think in similar way. When person spend longer time with such kind of people (xenophobic, etc) he can loose will for some ideas (loose believing that people can change something). Therefore it is usable that person get letters and other stuff for reading. Of course, all letters for custody read judge of that person (management at prisons for deportation), so first imprisoned person should be first asked does he wants to get this or that stuff. I didn’t want to get anarchistic stuff in Swiss because I asked for asylum and I didn’t want that they get info what kind of books I read. Beside it, it would be good to find people in town where is person imprisoned, so they can faster and easilier to bring him newspapers and magazines…In that way, time goes faster. If person is poor, people should gather some money to send him. Better to send every month less than all at once (as I said, in Bacvanska exists economic exploitation, when people go to prison-shop some person will have to buy things for mains, not only for him and for cell). Such things don’t exist in criminal custody and in prison for deportation in Basel/Swiss, because there prison gives basic things (for hygiene, etc). In Belgrade, people must buy everything.

That’s all for this time. Except mentioning of report of NGO, I can only guide readers to very good analyze of Kropotkin: “Prisons and Their Moral Influence on Prisoners”. (files are big so download it in order to read it).
We have here presentation of “Insides” (BuildingBloc art collective from San Francisco), we don’t have such things here everyday…They’ll speak about prison industry in USA, about housing…I think it is important to say that we are fighting against causes which bring people to do something criminal (causes are: economic inequality, discrimination, etc) but we should understand that in any kind of society some behavior will not be welcome, and I must say that bigger criminals will use any chance to become authority for other people (so bigger are those who decided to do it whole life, to build carrier of gangster). So, between prisoners exists and good and bad people, like outside also. I tried to explain what is situation in Belgrade’s custody. Our prisons are worst in Europe, after Turkish ones and Albanian ones.
Sasha, 24.august 2005, Belgrade, Serbia/Ex-Yugoslavia
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