|Tartu Prison, Estonia. Photo: Tartu Prison/Wikimedia Commons.|
The Estonian Justice Ministry denied complaints from Serbia and insisted that war criminals are serving their sentences in the country under conditions that are in accordance with Estonian and international laws.
“Criminals [from] the former Yugoslavia are serving their sentences in Tartu Prison under the same terms as other prisoners there,” the Justice Ministry told BIRN.
The ministry added that the treatment of prisoners can be checked at any time by the Red Cross and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, “[which] they have done regularly”.
BIRN sent questions to the Estonian ministry following complaints from Serbia, whose authorities claim that Serbian war crimes convicts are serving their sentences in inadequate conditions. The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals has said that it is investigating the allegations.
The Serbian Justice Ministry previously told BIRN that the two Serbian convicts, Milan Martic and Dragomir Milosevic, face a range of problems in Estonia, including an inability to exercise their right to legal protections and a lack of proper access to healthcare.
“The [medical] check-ups are unannounced, with security measures below the level of minimum of human dignity – strip-searches and transportation in so-called ‘cages’ – coupled with the lack of any communication with the doctor,” the Serbian Justice Ministry said.
Martic, the former leader of rebel Serbs in Croatia, was convicted in 2008 of murder, persecution on political, racial and religious grounds, imprisonment, deportations, the plunder of property, the wanton destruction of villages and attacks on civilians during the war in Croatia, among other things.
He has been serving his 35-year prison sentence in Estonia since 2009, and requested a transfer from the country in 2014, with his lawyer alleging poor medical treatment, substandard facilities and lack of any rehabilitation programme.
Milosevic, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, was sentenced in 2009 to 29 years in prison for terrorising and killing civilians during the siege of Sarajevo in 1994 and 1995. He has been serving the sentence in Estonia since 2011.