The Protector of Citizens has determined that officers of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Serbia have acted untimely and inefficiently when preventing the disruption of public order and peace in Stara Kapetanija Gallery in Zemun, the destruction of exhibited works of art and disruption of the present citizens’ safety and requested determining the accountability of police officers over work omissions.
In the investigation to control work regularity and legality of the MOI, initiated upon citizens’ complaint, the Protector of Citizens determined that the police officers of the Zemun Police Station made omissions in the work regarding the events of 13 October 2020 in Stara kapetanija Gallery because they acted untimely and inefficiently, even though they were previously informed about threats of death and property destruction.
In the investigation of controlling the work of the Ministry of the Interior, the Protector of Citizens determined that, the night before the incident, the Zemun Police Station had been informed that threats of death to the authors and threats that the gallery would be set on fire had been posted on the Facebook page of Stara kapetanija Gallery announcing the exhibition.
The Protector of Citizens determined that after being alerted on threats on 12 October 2020, the police officer had not informed the immediate superior about them, causing the lack of timely and efficient action by police officers to prevent the disputed event, and, as a result, ten individuals intruded into the gallery without hindrance, five of whom have been identified so far, the exhibited works of art were destroyed, public order and peace were disrupted and the safety of citizens who attended the exhibition was jeopardized.
In the Recommendations for rectifying the omissions, the Protector of Citizens has requested the Ministry of the Interior to take all necessary measures with a view to ascertaining the identity of the remaining individuals who participated in the intrusion into the gallery and who have not been identified so far, as well as all activities related to the collection and provision of all available evidence.
In addition, the Protector of Citizens has requested that the Ministry of the Interior conduct disciplinary proceedings against a police officer who failed to inform the superior about the report of the threat, as well as that the police officers of the Zemun Police Station in their future work act in accordance with legal regulations and principles of performing police operations both legally and correctly, i.e. without delay, and act upon citizens' reports conscientiously and efficiently.
The Ministry of the Interior should inform the Protector of Citizens about acting on the Recommendations within 60 days.