Special Department of the Higher Court in Belgrade, Serbia has issued first-instance judgment finding four persons guilty as co-perpetrators of trafficking in human beings, Article 388 Para 7 in connection with Para 1 and 3 of the Criminal Code of Serbia. Members of the group are accused of recruiting girls from Serbia on several occasions during 2011, transferring them to Italy, where they were kept against their will and sexually exploited. For less than a year, six girls, including two who were underage, fall victims to human trafficking in this way. The court sentenced the accused M.M to prison term of 15 years, whereas Ž.S was sentenced to 13 years, P.T. to 10.5 and V.Đ. to 10 years in prison. If the judgment becomes final and enforceable, they will also be required to pay the amount of EUR 55,000 to the budget of the Republic of Serbia on the account of gain acquired through committing the offence. This is one of the strictest penalties rendered to human traffickers in Serbia so far.
Work on this case is an example of successful cooperation of the Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime, Counter-Organized Crime Service and Higher Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade. Since appropriate penalizing of perpetrator is necessary in order to combat human trafficking, we hope that this judgment will be affirmed by the higher court. This is the first human trafficking case accepted by the Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime after long time. As trafficking is a serious and organized crime, we hope to see more examples of good practice in prosecution and punishment of human traffickers.
NGO ASTRA – Anti Trafficking Action was actively involved in search and emergency care for one of the victims and still provides direct assistance in the process of her recovery and reintegration.