Priests Charged After Leading Procession in Violation of COVID-19 Restrictions in Montenegro

Prison sentences may be handed down to eight Serbian Orthodox priests arrested for violating public health orders after leading an illegal procession through the streets of Niksic, Montenegro, on May 12, media reported.

Radio Free Europe said the priests face up to 12 years in prison if convicted.

Thousands of members of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro defied a ban on public gatherings aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus and took part in a May 12 march to mark the feast day of Saint Basil of Ostrog.

The priests spent four hours in jail on May 12 before being transported to the prosecutor’s office. The arrests came after the Montenegrin National Coordination Body for Infectious Diseases requested urgent action due to the large procession seen in the city.

In this video, priests can be seen taking part in the procession through the city, stopping to shake hands with the people gathered to greet them.

As of May 13 there were 324 confirmed coronavirus cases in Montenegro and nine deaths. Credit: Radio Free Europe via Storyful