Strasbourg — A European court on Tuesday told Romania it must respect a prisoner's right to food based on his religious beliefs after a jailed Buddhist was refused vegetarian meals.
The prisoner, Ghennadii Vartic, a Moldovan national who is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence in Romania, complained that during detentions in 1998 and 2009, prison authorities would not provide him with a vegetarian diet as required by his Buddhist convictions.
The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights condemned Bucharest to pay the 40-year-old 3,000 euros ($4,130) in damages and 200 euros for costs and expenses for violating his freedom of religion.
Until 2007 Vartic, who was an atheist before turning to Buddhism, received food from his family in line with his beliefs but authorities have banned such favours since thereby limiting his food intake.
Bucharest which has three months to appeal argued that a number of prisoners convert to religion to receive better food.
However the court ruled there was no proof that this was true in Vartic's case.