BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) – A far-right Serbian leader was convicted and sentenced Tuesday to 10 months in prison for making death threats that led to the cancellation of Belgrade’s 2009 gay pride march.
Belgrade’s district court ruled that Mladen Obradovic, the leader of the extremist group Obraz, or Honor, made the threats ahead of the planned march. His group incited discrimination with graffiti that read “Death to gays” and “Blood will flow, there will be no gay parade.”
Lazar Pavlovic, a leader of a Serbian gay-rights group, said he is not satisfied with the length of the sentence because such charges should carry prison terms of up to three years in prison.
“We expect that the prosecution will lodge an appeal and we will continue to follow this case,” he said.
Obradovic has been sentenced in a separate case to two years in jail on charges that his group incited violence during a gay pride march in 2010 that left scores of people injured. He is currently a free man while appealing the verdicts.
Serbia has pledged to protect gay rights as it seeks to join the European Union. But the gay community still faces threats and attacks, especially as it tries to organize pride marches.
Serbia’s constitutional court has been deliberating over whether to ban Obradovic’s far-right group, one of many that have mushroomed in the Balkan state after the wars in the region in the 1990s.
Obradovic said upon leaving the courtroom on Tuesday that he doesn’t care whether Obraz would be officially banned because it could continue acting illegally.
“Let them prosecute and rule, but they cannot stop us,” Obradovic said.
Ivana Bzganovic contributed to this report.
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