Twelve members of the ‘Justice for David’ group, which has for more than two years been demanding that authorities solve the March 2018 murder of 21-year-old David Dragicevic, have submitted criminal complaints on Wednesday against ten Banja Luka police officers accusing them of illegally detaining them the day before.
Police in Banja Luka detained Ozren Perduv, one of the representatives of Justice for David, in front of cameras as he was about to give a statement to the media on Tuesday. Nine other members of the group were also detained shortly after.
According to Perduv, the activists were kept at police stations for some eight hours. He said the complaints the group submitted accuse the police officers of abuse of official position, violation of the equality of citizens and illegal deprivation of liberty.
City authorities had banned gatherings at Banja Luka’s Krajina Square some time ago. Police said that the Justice for David members were detained because they organised a public gathering that was not reported to authorities in accordance with the law.
Perduv said that no public gathering took place on Tuesday. He also said the group submitted similar complaints against police in January as well but never heard back from authorities since then.
“Yesterday there were three people in front of the camera and the fact that some other people sat on benches nearby is something nobody should have a problem with. Those benches are there for people to sit on them. The fact that someone might have recognised those people as members of some group does not give a right to anybody to call it a public gathering,” he said.
Perduv said he did not resist arrest and explained that police first took him to the local Covid-designated hospital to test him for the coronavirus and then to the Banja Luka Police Station.
“After procedural processing, six of the ten of us who were detained were transported to the training centre of the Ministry of the Interior, for reasons completely unknown to us. We were placed in detention cells in Zaluzani and we waited to find out what would happen to us,” he explained, adding that the activists were later released “in an almost unbelievable way.”
“Instead of taking us back to the city centre, where we were detained, they left us like dogs in front of the gate at half-past three in the morning and we could hardly find a taxi to take us back to the city centre.”
Lawyer Jovana Kisin said she was not allowed to enter the police station or communicate with the members of the group while they were detained.
“They were kept without legal reason and basis. In the end, they were handed invitations for questioning,” she said, announcing that more complaints will be submitted regarding the events of Tuesday.
Police found the lifeless body of David Dragicevic, 21, in a river near Banja Luka, the administrative centre of Bosnia's Serb-majority region of Republika Srpska (RS), in March 2018.
A few days later, pathologist Zeljko Karan told the media that the cause of death was likely drowning and that Dragicevic had taken drugs.
The press conference sparked a series of protests, especially since another autopsy performed on David’s body showed a different time of death.
The case was later reclassified into murder.
Led by David’s father, who believes police and prosecutors in the semi-autonomous entity of Republika Srpska are protecting the killer of his son, numerous citizens have joined the ‘Justice for David’ group and organised a series of protests.