Serbia denies torture on mental patients

Nov. 15, 2007 at 11:01 AM

BELGRADE, Serbia, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Serbia's prime minister Thursday said experts will examine a foreign report alleging mentally disabled patients were being tortured in state-run institutions.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, angrily reacting to Mental Disability Rights International's claim that disabled children and adults have their rights violated in Serbian social protection institutions, said it was anti-Serbian propaganda, the Serbian news agency Tanjug reported.

Kostunica said his government ministers advised him charges presented in the MDRI report were false and malicious. MDRI alleged that patients were tormented and weren't receiving treatment while in mental institutions.

"The government of Serbia will confront this dark propaganda with all democratic and legal means," Kostunica said in a statement carried by Serbian media.

Wednesday in Belgrade MDRI Director Eric Rosenthal said researchers of the non-governmental human rights group in December saw children and people tied to beds in unsanitary conditions and lacking medical care in social care institutions across Serbia.

Belgrade television channels have aired sections of a MRDI-produced film covering the report's claims.

Serbia's has 78 social care institutions for people with special needs that accommodate 11,350 people, of whom 2,300 are children.

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