Abolition of police protection for Tufik Softić is yet another blow to the journalist who was researching and informing on organized crime in the north of Montenegro in public interest.
Softić survived an attempted murder at his doorstep in 2007 and the explosion in the family yard in 2013. The investigation of attempted murder was opened only seven years after the incident and closed after a year and a half without result. During the investigation some obvious oversights of competent prosecutors and police were recorded, which represent a violation of international standard of the right to an effective investigation in response to attack on life. Therefore, with the support of HRA and Media Law Defense Initiative from London, Softić filed a constitutional complaint and initiated a civil proceeding for damage compensation. Despite the report on these oversights submitted to the Supreme State Prosecutor Ivica Stanković in January 2016, the State Prosecutor’s Office had so far reacted only partially, by the conclusion of the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office that it did not recognize any crimes in the work of public authorities that are falling within the jurisdiction of that particular Office.
To date there has been no answer from the State Prosecutor’s Office as a whole.
In the meantime, the prosecution concluded a plea agreement for false testimony with a man from the criminal milieu, someone who Softić, among the first, suspected of involvement in the attack on him. HRA has concluded that the agreement denigrated the problem of uninvestigated attack on the journalist.
Bearing in mind all noted indicators of substantial lack of interest of public authorities to secure justice for the attack on Softić, it does not come as a big surprise that the police have now abolished him of protection and without any explanation on how is his situation today any different from that in 2014 when the protection had been assigned.
HRA will persist in ensuring that a court, either in Podgorica or Strasbourg finally establishes the responsibility of state authorities and those who represent them for illegal and inhuman behavior towards Softić.
This is necessary to ensure at least partial justice for Softić as well as to force the authorities to provide adequate protection of human rights in similar future cases.