Dušan Jovanović

Dusan Jovanovic, a thirteen-year-old Roma boy was beaten to death on 18 October 1997 in the center of Belgrade, at No. 30 Beogradska street, next to the house where he lived with his family. He was killed by two skinheads, Milan Cujic and Istvan Fendrik from Zemun, minors at the time. On his last evening, Dusan Jovanovic went to a drugstore to buy juice and was beaten on his way back by four of angry thugs with shaven heads. They used fists and a dismantled gutter and then kept kicking him as he lay on the ground. The judicial epilogue included maximum prison sentences for older juveniles Cujic and Fendrik of ten years in prison, of which they served six. Their sentence was reduced by a special decision of the District Court in Belgrade. The two other thugs were not prosecuted.

The tragic murder of Dusan Jovanovic pointed to the connection between the neonazi ideology and the skinheads’ practices. This is also the subject of the book entitled “They Killed his Eyes” by Dragoljub Acković “We haven’t had a racially motivated murder for fifty years in this area, someone said in the past month that shook the Roma community. It is true, the only thing is that the person who said it forgot (probably intentionally) to add the word publiclyto this assertion. For there have definitely been racially motivated murders in this area, meaning in Belgrade and Serbia. They have happened but they have all been classified in all other ways, rather than on racial grounds”. 

On the tenth anniversary of the crime, a memorial plaque was placed on the site where the boy was killed. The people have gradually stopped talking about the anniversary of the murder and about one of many important reasons why the society should deal with the deep problems of racism, hatred, and violence, especially among young people. Most of the media ceremoniously marked the murder anniversary in 2013 and it has since then rarely been mentioned.

In an interview given in November 2010, Vojin Dimitrijević (Director of Belgrade Centre for Human Rights), had stated: “Members of minority groups are victims of the culture of violence that was enthroned in the nineties. Let me recall young Dusan Jovanovic, who was killed in 1997 just for being Roma, the famous actor Dragan Maksimovic, who was beaten to death in 2000 because they thought that he was a Roma, Dejan Nebrigic, who died in 1999 in Pancevo, following a series of threats he received as a gay and peace activist, Zivorad Siskovic, a sixty-year old boxing coach, who lost his life in 2002 while trying to protect a Chinese fan from the mob which found him to be a nuisance just for being racially different.”

The shop selling religious books and artifacts in front of which Dušan was murdered still sells nationalist and antisemitic literature. Father and sister of Dušan Jovanović have moved since to Orlovsko naselje where they still live, and one of the streets bears Dušan's name. The families Jovanović and Dekić are keeping the memory of Dušan and his mother alive. 

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Contact: Center for Holocaust Research and Education - CHRE, tel: +38163247856, e-mail: [email protected] web: www.cieh-chre.org

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