EFFECTIVE INVESTIGATION NEEDED: REPORTS OF TORTURE BEING USED TO EXTRACT CONFESSION IN CASE OF ATTACKS ON “GRAND” AND GOLUBOVIĆ’S HOUSE

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EFFECTIVE INVESTIGATION NEEDED: REPORTS OF TORTURE BEING USED TO EXTRACT CONFESSION IN CASE OF ATTACKS ON “GRAND” AND GOLUBOVIĆ’S HOUSE

Human Rights Action (HRA) wishes to inform the public that all three alleged participants in the case of bomb attacks on the bar “Grand” and the house of DuškoGolubović (former National Security Agency officer, now police officer[1]) reported that criminalistic police officers in the Police Headquarters Podgorica extorted testimonies from them by using cruel torture techniques.  Descriptions of identical details of police torture by application of electro-shocks to genitals and thighs, as well as hitting with boxing gloves and baseball bats, threatening to kill and playing loud music to drown out screams, point to credibility of their claims. Although all three cases have been reported on May 26th, May 28th and June 4th, and medical reports provided, the competent Basic State Prosecutor’s Office in Podgorica has not announced to date that it launched any investigation against the police officers, nor were the complainants notified of the actions undertaken by the state prosecutors. As the Basic State Prosecutors Office in Podgorica has failed to undertake effective investigations of police torture before, HRA urged the acting Supreme State Prosecutor, Ivica Stankovic to secure that torture claims are investigated urgently, thoroughly and impartially, in accordance with the European standards. The case is ofparticular interest due to the fact that the Council of Europe anti-torture Committee (CPT) in its two reports in Montenegro highlighted complaints of ill-treatment by the police using electro-shocks[2] and the well-established practice of ill-treatment bycrime inspectors[3].

The latest case involves allegations of torture against Jovan Grujičić, accused of “bomb attacks”, Benjamin Mugoša, another person initially suspected of participation in the attacks, and M.B., an alleged witness who claims to had been tortured into testifying that Mugosa and Grujičić executed the attacks.

At a press conference held on May 29[4], the Head of the Police Headquarters in Podgorica, Milovan Pavićević, Head of the Criminalistic Police in Podgorica Miloš Vučinić, state prosecutor Miroslav Turković and state prosecutor SnežanaŠišević, announced that “the bomb attacks case” was resolved. They accused Jovan Grujičić and Benjamin Mugoša of executing the attacks, although just one day earlier Mugošaofficially complained about being tortured to prosecutor Šišević and insisted that he had been in prison at the time of both attacks. However, the state prosecutor did not check his statement until the Court on 1 June refused the prosecutionrequest to continue Mugoša’s detention due to the fact that he had indeed been in prison at both times the criminal actswere committed.[5] It had only recently been reported that the state prosecutor rejected the criminal complaint the police filed against Mugoša.[6]

In this case the alleged witness, M.B., was first apprehended on May 25th by the Police in Tivat and handed over to the criminalistic police officers of the Police Headquarters Podgorica, who took him to Podgorica. According to his statement given to Basic State Prosecutor Romina Vlahović, the police officers applied mental and physical methods of torture on him all day (detailed account bellow), to force him to testify that Jovan Grujičić and Benjamin Mugoša participated in “the bombings”, that Mugoša was driving a car, and Grujićić planted explosives.[7] The M.B.’s torture testimony is convincing as he had also reported injuries and it had been proven in the meantime that his testimony against Mugoša was groundless as Mugoša could not have possibly committed these crimes from prison. HRA hereby supports the appeal of our colleague Predrag Spasojević from the NGO Autonomous Civic Movement (who made public announcements on the allegations of torture of M.B.[8]) that the investigation in this case be conducted urgently and thoroughly and that the public should be informed about its results.

On the following day, 26th of May, the criminalistic police officers removedJovan Grujičić from the Special Psychiatric Hospital (SPH) in Dobrota, where he was a patient, and took him to Podgorica.  There, according to a criminal complaint filed by his father, his mother`s account, and his own complaint to the Ombudsman, he was brutally mentally and physically abused by the police (detailed description below), with the aim of extorting a testimony that he had planted the explosive, while Benjamin Mugoša was driving him on both occasions. However, as the court already established that Benjamin Mugoša had been in prison at the time of both bombings and could not have possibly participated in the commission of the crimes, this fact also suggests that Grujicic’s confession had been extorted. HRA is particularly concerned as Grujičić deserved special protection at the time of his arrest as a psychiatric patient. It is also especially important to carefully examine his parent’s allegations that the SPH director, in breach of the rules of medical profession and usual procedure in similar cases, deprived him of prescribed medication and enabled his removal from the hospital by the police. Especially concerning is also the part of the complaint stating that Grujičić had beenpresuadednot to allow a lawyer to participate at hisquestioninginthe police andthestateprosecutorsoffice.

Jovan Grujičić’s father filed a criminal complaint due to his son’s torture with state prosecutor Suzana Milić in the Higher State Prosecutor’s Office in Podgorica and Jovan confirmed this in his statement provided to the Basic State Prosecutor on 24th of June. However, he is still confined in pre-trial detention. On 25th of June, the Trial Chamber, headed by Judge Goran Đuković, extended Grujicic’s detention due to the existence of a well-founded suspicion based on his confession that he had committed both acts, as well as his previous conviction for several criminal offenses.  The suspicion is based, on one side, on Grujicic’s confession, which he retracted when reporting torture, and on the other, on  forensic expert’s finding that he “may be a person from the video”, i.e. that he “cannot be excluded as a possible person appearing in the video recording”, which does not constitute any reliable evidence. HRA believes that this decision on continuation of Grujičić’s detention is contrary to the European standard of the right to liberty of person and we hope that the appeal filed against this decision will be adopted. Especially bearing in mind that another chamber of the same court already assessed this confession as not trustworthy.[9]

The descriptions of cruel torture techniques applied to all three men are extremely worrying, and the recorded traces of injuries of M.B. and Mugoša (Grujičić’s medical reports are still unavailable) represent “convincing allegations” that the Basic State Prosecutor’s Office is required to investigate effectively, meaning urgently, impartially and thoroughly. We emphasize that the identities of police officers who participated in the interrogation of Grujičić are known from existing official documents. HRA forwarded those documents to Ivica Stanković, acting Supreme State Prosecutor.

The HRA recalls the legal obligation that police officers, suspected of ill-treatment and torture, need to be suspendedfrom duty during criminal proceedings. We also remind of the risk of undue influence against the persons filing the torture complaints and the witnesses.

The HRA recalls that the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has warned in its two previous reports on the visits to Montenegro that “the use of ill-treatment is an accepted practice among crime inspectors”[10], as well as of complaints of unacceptable use of “electro-shocks” by police officers[11].  In  previous reports, the CPT also pointed to “non-standard items” (including baseball bats and electrical cables) found in the Podgorica Security Center, listed as the location where the victims were allegedly tortured in this latest case as well. Despite efforts of the HRA to timely point out to the Director of the Police Directorate the obligation to suppress police ill-treatment[12], the reports in this case unfortunately indicate that this practice has continued.

The HRA further recalls that international bodies as well as state bodies of Montenegro previously described as ineffective the conduct of investigations led by the State Prosecutor’s Office in Podgorica (torture of late Aleksandar Pejanović in the so-called  “Betonjerka”; in the case of “Orlov let/Eagle’s Flight”; in the case of mass beatings in the prison administration (ZIKS); in the case of Milić and Nikezić, and the 2015 torture cases of Mijo Martinović, young men in Zlatarska Street, journalist Gojko Raicevic).  Despite condemnation by international human rights bodies, the Ombudsman’s opinions, the fact that the Constitutional Court in two cases also found violations of the prohibition of torture and ineffective investigation, as well as previous judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in Nikezić and Milić and “Orlov let” cases, the prosecution continuously remained inert and inefficient in processing cases of police torture.

The HRA intends to monitor and analyse the conduct of investigation in this case, with special emphasis on the urgency of action, especially bearing in mind the need for immediate documentation and expertise of injuries. HRA will also monitor performance of the Police Administration and the Department for the Interior Control of the Work of the Police, as the complaints had been filed with them as well.

Descriptions of torture:

Jovan Grujičić (complaint filed by his father Budimir):

 “I know that, while my son Jovan was in the Police Headquarters in Podgorica, he was exposed to the following acts of torture:  getting beaten by baseball bats while wearing a bulletproof vest, being hit on the soles of his feet, use of electroshock devices on his genitalia, nipples, ears and eyelids. These actions were carried out accompanied by constant laughter of the police officers and the words “We will heal you” directed to him by six police officials of the criminalistic police department for violent crimes. Four police officials were holding him down on a table, with his lower half undressed, … with a baseball bat, followed by multiple acts of cocking a gun directed at him along with threats and insults. Following that, a man, whom due to easily recognizable body shape and constitution may have been inspector L, forced Jovan who was tortured and exhausted, to walk on his hands and knees around the room, while he attempted to ride him. Further, the official took selfies on his phone while saying “I will send this to everyone, so that they see what a brute you are”. I highlight that the final two abovementioned methods cracked Jovan’s resolve. Hethen said that he would admit to all allegations and sign all statements he was given, which he did.

Following his confession, Jovan was threatened that he cannot ask for an attorney, so at 6:45 pm, he called from an official police number my ex-wife who was with an attorney and told her that he was going to the prosecutor’s office to give a statement, and that immediately after that he would be returned to the Police Station.

Then, she told him that attorney T. and I would be coming there, to which Jovan replied “No need, no need, better not”, while a voice could be heard in the background saying “Don’t, don’t”, repeatedly threatening him that he cannot call an attorney.

M.B.:

“After about a mile or two, a police officer sitting to my left in the back seat of the car opened a window and fired 4-5 bullets in the direction of the hill. I would like to explain that a cotton sack they had put on my head was quite transparent so I could see.  All 4 police officers had bulletproof vests that said Criminalistic Police, handguns and balaclavas on their heads, with just eye slits. During the ride, two of them took out their guns, cocked them and pointed them at my head, saying several times “Turn somewhere off the road, kill this c*nt”… Loud music was playing in the car all the time … Do you want us to play you your last music wish, after which he played the song “My friend is gone”…

… 

They forced me to look at a wall… The four abovementioned police officers brought a large loudspeaker to the office, on which they played music at the highest volume, so that my screams for help could not be heard… Two of them hit me in the head with black boxing gloves on their hands… They ordered me to lay on my back and straighten my legs, which I did. Another two officers approached me, one sat on my knees, applying electro-shocks all over my thighs, whilst the other one was repeatedly hitting the soles of my sneakers with a baseball bat, probably thinking that to injuries would remain visible. The use of baseball bats and electric shocks really hurt. Later, I saw that the use of electric shocks burned off hair on my thighs. During all this time, these four police officers were in the office. The entire event lasted about an hour. While I was receiving blows in the office, I shouted, I yelled for help, but no one heard me because the music had been extremely loud.  As soon as I entered the office, that is, while I was originally sitting on a chair facing the wall, I asked the police officers to call me a lawyer, to which one of them replied, “Get the lawyer out of your head, you have no rights, we have all the powers, we can do what we want, we here are your lawyers, the prosecutor and the judge, there is no other lawyer here”.  After that, the abovementioned four officers took me through the back-door to a parking lot, and then we entered through another door to another part of the building.  After that, these police officers, who were still wearing bulletproof vests and balaclavas, took me into an office, where there were two police inspectors, one of whom I had seen before, while the other one I have seen for the first time. I would like to clarify that one police inspector, to whose office I was then brought, had the surname M, he had a longer, curly hair, while the other was 1.80 m tall, thin, gray hair, 50 years of age.  They questioned me about the 2015 events, while I was in prison in Germany, so I told them I did not know anything about it. After some 15-20 minutes, those 4 police officers, also wearing bulletproof vests and balaclavas on their heads, re-entered the office of M. and his colleague, and took me back to the office in another part of the building, where I had been before.

On that occasion, these four police abusers continued torturing me until 9 pm because, despite them insisting, I repeatedly told them that I knew nothing about Benjamin and Zoran Mugoša, as well as Jovan Grujičić throwing an explosive device in front of two houses in Podgorica in 2015. After that, two more police officers came to the abovementioned office, wearing civilian clothes and balaclavas on their heads. On that occasion, these six police officers attacked me by hitting me in the head and body with boxing gloves, causing me to fall on my back, so one of them applied electroshocks in the area of ​​my genitals while I was lying on the floor in denim shorts. While I was lying on the floor on my back, the other three officers alternately they hit me with their fists, i.e. open palms in the area of ​​my face and legs and the area of ​​my buttocks, while I was trying to move to the side and lift off the floor.  There was loud music in the office all the time.  During the abuse, these six officers told me that if I did not confirm that the Mugoša and Grujičić brothers had set up an explosive device in front of two houses in Podgorica, that they would throw me into the sea between Budva and Jaz, and that they would drown me, that I would be neither the first nor the last to end my lifein such a way. Also, while I was lying on the floor, in this office, a police officer took out his penis and told me that he would urinate on me if I did not confirm the above mentioned allegations. Also, while I was lying on the floor and while they were hitting me, these police officers took a transparent black bag off my head and put a big white thick plastic bag on me and started choking me with it, so that while the bag was on my head, they strangled and squeezed my neck, causing me to choke.  The cops would take off this white bag so I could catch my breath, then they would put it back on and choke me again, which they did multiple times. I cannot even remember what else they did to me anymore, because it lasted from 8 am to 10 pm.  After that, these policemen turned off the music and let me read for several times the record of the alleged taking of my statement, the statement I did not give, telling me to memorize it well, so I would not say anything different to the prosecutor.  So, for the above reasons, I have read this false statement of mine several times. After that, these six police officers told me to sign this statement of theirs, hitting me in the face with unclenched fists and applying electric shocks to my body. I was forced to sign for all the reasons stated. Before they took me to the state prosecutor in charge in Podgorica, these six police officers told me to repeat everything I allegedly stated to the police in front of the prosecutor as well, because if I did not repeat it, and if the prosecutor returns my statement allegedly given to the police, that they would take me to Ćemovsko polje, where I would be mistreated and beaten, and that they will bring my girlfriend …, who will also be mistreated and beaten on Ćemovsko polje. … All this I was told by the police officers who beat me, in order to extort a statement from me on 25 May 2020, which I gave before the state prosecutor in Podgorica. So, my testimony before the state prosecutor is false, because I experienced abuse, torture and mistreatment by the six abovementioned police officers in Podgorica.  Also, the police officers threatened me not to even think about reporting them for alleged abuse, torture and mistreatment because they told me that next time they would come to Tivat for me personally and kill me. I would add that one of the police officers also wrote a farewell letter on my behalf, which was intended to be sent to my family on my behalf, where he quoted the verses of a song, referring to my girlfriend etc. I guess that with this letter he wanted to scare me, so that I would think they would kill me and send the letter to my family as if I had allegedly committed suicide.  Also, one of these police officers, who described himself as the chief of the others, and who was referred to by others as “boss, chief”, told me to confirm to the state prosecutor everything I had stated in my alleged statement to the police, which I signed under duress, because otherwise they would take me to Ćemovsko polje, where they would torture and kill me.  After that, I gave a statement before the state prosecutor in Podgorica, which was false because I was afraid of the police, as well as of the persons I have falsely presented as perpetrators and accomplices. However, I no longer remember what I said to the prosecutor, because I have had remembered the statement at that moment, after I have read my alleged statement to the police for several times. I had not eaten anything all that day, so I was really exhausted.  Finally, from all the hits I have sustained bodily injuries in the trunk area, as well as the head.“

 Benjamin Mugoša:

“I want to say that in the Police Headquarters I was physically abused by masked policemen who had balaclavas on their heads, who were dressed in police uniforms, more precisely they wore jeans, and some black vests with some equipment hanging from them, and on their backs it was written “Criminalistic police”.  I could not recognize those faces anyway, since they were masked and I did not see what they looked like. They demanded that I turn against the wall, then they put two balaclavas on my head and I rode in an elevator, and then they took me into a room where they sat me on a chair, and then they started beating and insulting me. I think I have spent about 20 minutes in that room, and while I was in the same room they beat me almost all the time. They sat me down, then one of them hit me on the soles with some hard object, but I couldn’t see with what, and during that time the others slapped me and punched me and I don’t know if they hit me on the head with something else on the head and the body. They asked me to say who ordered me and Grujičić to commit those crimes. … I received a large number of blows, they must have hit me a hundred times, all over my body, face and head. In addition, they cocked a gun next to my ears several times. I am scared of what I just said but I had to say it. “

 

 

[1]https://www.vijesti.me/vijesti/crna-hronika/410535/tajno-u-javnoj-policiji-dusko-golubovic-ponovo-zaposlen-ali-bez-konkursa

[2] CPT Report on the visit to Montenegro in 2013, para. 14; CPT Report on the visit to Montenegro in 2013, pages 4, 12.

[3] “The Montenegrin authorities must recognise that the existence of ill-treatment by police officers is a fact, that it is not the result of a few rogue officers but appears to be an accepted practice within the current police culture, notably among crime inspectors.” CPT Report on the visit to Montenegro in 2017, para. 14, published in Strasbourg on 7 February 2019 (https://rm.coe.int/1680925987).

[4]https://www.vijesti.me/vijesti/crna-hronika/437595/grujicic-uhapsen-zbog-podmetanja-bombe-u-grandu-i-napada-na-imovinu-golubovica-mugosa-nalogodavac

[5]https://www.vijesti.me/vijesti/crna-hronika/438611/ukinut-pritvor-benjaminu-mugosi

[6]https://www.pobjeda.me/clanak/bombaski-napad-na-grand-optuzni-prijedlog-protiv-grujicica-mugosa-pod-istragom

[7]https://www.dan.co.me/?nivo=3&rubrika=Vijest%20dana&datum=2020-06-03&clanak=746649

[8]https://www.vijesti.me/vijesti/crna-hronika/448399/ne-zna-ko-ga-je-oteo-policajci-ili-kriminalci

[9] Onthe23rd of June the decision on ordering detention of a brother of Benjamin Mugosa, Zoran Mugosa, had been quashed. He had been described as instigator of the attacks at the said press conference on 29th of May. The court has found that there was no ground for suspicion that Zoran Mugosa committed those acts as the only evidence provided to suport it – the statement of Jovan Grujičić – is unconvincing, as he marked Benjamin Mugosa as co-perpetrator although he had been in prison at the time of both attacks (DecisionKv. no. 671/20 of the Basic Court in Podgorica, president of court chamber judge Nada Rabrenović).

[10]Please see above footnote 3.

[11]Please see above footnote 2.

[12]http://www.hraction.org/2019/03/06/6-3-2019-pismo-direktoru-uprave-policije-povodom-izvjestaja-evropskog-komiteta-za-sprjecavanje-mucenja-cpt/

 

Injuries on the body of M.B.