Reprieve’s EC Project is assisting on the case of Serbian national Avram Nika. Avram, a beloved brother and uncle, was sentenced to death in Nevada in 1995.
Avram was born in Vladimirovac, a small rural town not far from Belgrade, on 12 February 1970. He comes from three generations of poverty and, because he is a Roma, has been subjected to prejudice and discrimination his entire life.
Avram was charged with murder in 1994. In a flagrant breach of the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights, arresting authorities in Nevada didn't notify the Serbian consulate of Avram’s detention. His trial counsel subsequently did nothing to correct this; nor did they conduct any investigation work into his family background, education or mental health problems in Serbia. In August 2011, the Government of Serbia filed an amicus curiae brief on Avram's behalf on these grounds.
Avram’s beloved brother Sveta, and his family, still live in Serbia so are unable to visit their relative. Shockingly, 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 defense. In the end, only two people did.
Avram is currently held at Ely State Prison. Ely is a four-hour drive away from Las Vegas and not a thing lies in between the two cities other than three gas stations. As a result, personal - and even legal - visits for those at Ely are few and far between.
Health care at the prison is atrocious. It is, in fact, so bad that the ACLU has brought a lawsuit against the prison, after an investigative report described the conditions as being “as horrific as any we have ever seen".