HRA will request from the Prosecutorial and Judicial Council of Montenegro to examine actions of the competent state prosecutors and judges in the case in which Veselin Piletić was acquitted of charges for the crimes of murder and extraction after 17 years. For almost seventeen years Piletić has been living under a criminal charge for which even fifteen years ago, when he was first acquitted, the court determined that there was no evidence supporting the indictment.
On the other hand, the murder of Milan Paljević remained unpunished, for which Piletić was convicted, while no investigation of this murder continued since 1999 when Piletić was charged for the murder.
Montenegrin judiciary must demonstrate that it is capable to learn on mistakes and that concrete measures preventing pursuing such hopeless and long criminal proceedings will be taken.
Piletić spent more than a year in custody, his passport was taken away for 17 years, while all dramatic consequences of living under a criminal charge cannot even closely be compensated with “just satisfaction” of two thousand euros, that the Supreme Court adjudicated him in 2013 for violation of his right to trial within a reasonable time in the proceedings that at the time already lasted over thirteen years (judgment Tpz. 4/2013). The Supreme Court found several extended periods of inactivity in the proceedings, whereby only in one specific period there was no action for over 15 months. At the same time the Court found that the defendant did not contribute in any way to the length of proceedings.
In this case the behaviour of the State Prosecutor’s Office is particularly questionable. It insisted on the charges on the basis of two highly controversial evidences – one illegal evidence – paper with alleged written confession of the accused – whose origin prosecutors did not want to disclose, and the testimony of an unreliable witness, who has changed his testimony several times and whose mental illness had been documented in a timely manner.
In the first instance there were three trials, where seven judges changed, so the trial began from the start for the seven times. Higher instances have incomprehensibly insisted on forensic examination of the alleged written confession, although it was not even supposed to be treated as evidence, as its origin had not been declared.
The payment of compensation to Piletić, which is yet to be paid from the state budget, in this and all similar cases should lead to a serious examination of the accountability of public officers, in this case state prosecutors and judges who caused the damage.
The case of Piletić presents with yet another opportunity to start with solving one of the systemic problem of the Montenegrin judiciary, reflected in the lack of accountability of judges and prosecutors for unprofessional work which causes damage to the parties, the state and at the end to all of citizens of Montenegro.