Avram Nika

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Avram Nika is a beloved brother and uncle from Serbia who was sentenced to death in Nevada in 1995. His family were not able to testify in his defence at trial and were only informed of his plight four years after he had been sentenced. He is currently held on death row at Ely State Prison in horrific conditions.

Avram NikaAvram was born in Vladimirovac, a small rural town near Belgrade. He grew up in abject poverty, and faced discrimination because of his Roma heritage.

Avram was charged with murder in 1994. His trial lawyer did not conduct any investigation work into his family background, education or mental health problems in Serbia. His lawyer and the Nevada authorities both failed to notify the Serbian consulate of Avram’s detention, in a flagrant breach of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Since taking up the case, Reprieve has worked with the Serbian government who have filed amicus briefs on Avram’s behalf.

“If the Serbian consulate had been informed of Avram’s arrest, it would have provided crucial assistance, including translation, legal advice and key mitigating evidence, which could have saved his life. The state of Nevada must face up to its deplorable failings in this case and order a new trial.”

Reprieve investigator Katherine Bekesi

Avram’s brother Sveta and his family still live in Serbia and are unable to visit their relative. They weren’t told about Avram’s plight until four years after he had been convicted. Not only was this personally devastating but it meant that they couldn’t testify in his defence. Avram is currently held on death row at Ely State Prison. Ely is a four-hour drive away from Las Vegas, making personal visits for those at Ely few and far between. Healthcare and conditions at the prison are atrocious – so bad that the ACLU brought a lawsuit against the prison. An investigative report described the conditions as being “as horrific as any we have ever seen“.

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