June 23, 2000YU govt drafts terrorist law
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) -- Heralding even tougher times for political opponents, President Slobodan Milosevic's Cabinet on Friday submitted to parliament a draft anti-terrorism law aimed at curbing dissent.
A government statement distributed by the official Tanjug news agency said the anti-terrorism law was drafted according to similar laws in England, Spain or Italy. It said the Cabinet asked for the measure's "urgent" adoption at the next parliament session, scheduled for June 30.
Sources close to the government said the draft law provides for broader police authority, changes in criminal court procedure, increased border control and "certain limitations in the work of the lawyers." Independent analysts fear the proposed laws will pave the way for a new, major sweep against Serbia's fledgling opposition parties and nongovernment organizations.
"The repression will become systematic from now on," said Goran Svilanovic, the leader of opposition Civic Alliance. "With this law they are preparing terrain for future possible widespread unrest."
Milan Bozic, an official of the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement, said the proposed law is a political one aimed at pressuring the opposition. He said it would bring the regime one step closer to "real dictatorship."
The government has accused regime opponents of anti-state activities and "terrorism." It says the opposition works under instructions from the United States and NATO, which the government says want to destroy Yugoslavia and install a pro-Western government.
Such accusations increased after a series of murders of high-ranking officials earlier this year, including Defense Minister Pavle Bulatovic in February and Socialist official Bosko Perosevic in May.
The government blamed the killings on the pro-democracy movement. Stepping up pressure against independent media and dissent since then, Milosevic's regime has closed down several television and radio stations and detained hundreds of opposition activists.
In the latest crackdown, more than 30 activists of the popular student-run Otpor, or Resistance, group were detained Thursday.
"The law will not stop our struggle," said Vukasin Petrovic, a student leader in Otpor. "We will continue even harder. It can't harm us. They cannot arrest nine million people, the whole of Serbia."
When passed by the federal parliament, the anti-terrorism law will also formally apply to Montenegro, Serbia's partner in Yugoslavia. Montenegro's pro-Western leadership is at odds with Milosevic's federal authorities.
The Montenegrin justice minister, Dragan Soc, dismissed the draft law as "just another way to pressure" officials in Montenegro's capital, Podgorica, the private Beta news agency reported.
"Since we do not recognize the legitimacy of the federal parliament, such a law will not be applicable in Montenegro," Soc said.