Although it was supposed to take place today in the Basic Court in Podgorica, the beginning of the trial for the criminal offence of extortion of testimony from the victim Marko Boljević in the investigation of the “bombing attacks”, accompanied by serious violence, was postponed for the third time because the defence attorney requested that the state prosecutor Romina Vlahović as well as the entire Basic State Prosecutor’s Office in Podgorica be excluded from the proceedings due to suspicion of impartiality.
The trial was postponed for the first time on 15 September this year because one of the accused police officers, Nemanja Vujošević, was not properly served with a summons. The second time, two defendants – Dalibor Ljekočević and Bojan Vujačić – failed to appear in court because of illness.
The hearing is now postponed for 25 January 2023, and the case pending before the Basic Court is handled by Judge Larisa Stamatović Mijušković.
Explaining the request for exemption of the Basic State Prosecutor in Podgorica, attorney Marko Radović pointed out that the objectivity of the prosecution was called into question because of the way in which the investigation procedure was conducted to extort a statement from Marko Boljević. According to him, the case was in fact in the preliminary investigation phase until the final acquittal of Jovan Grujičić for planting explosives in 2015, in which case Boljević, as an allegedly key witness, was forced to make a statement.
In addition, attorney Radović pointed out the failure of the basic state prosecutor in Podgorica to question its prosecutor Ivana Vuksanović during the investigation phase. Vuksanović was the one that took a statement from Boljević on 25 May 2020 and said for the record that he had no injuries at the time and that he made the statement of his own free will. As the defence plans to call prosecutor Vuksanović from the Basic State Prosecutor’s Office in Podgorica as a key witness, and the trial for the extortion of testimony is pending based on the indictment of that prosecutor’s office, the defence suspects that further objectivity and impartiality of the prosecution is in question.
The HRA would like to recall that on 26 May 2020, the day after the extortion of testimony, Marko Boljević filed a criminal report against 6 unknown police officers from Security Centre in Podgorica, whom he said tortured him so that he would make a statement in which he would accuse Jovan Grujičić and Benjamin and Zoran Mugoša of two criminal acts. On the same day, state prosecutor Romina Vlahović ordered a medical expert to physically examine Boljević. The next day, Dr. Nemanja Radojević recorded Boljević’s numerous physical injuries, including hematomas on the neck. In addition to the domestic expert, Marko Boljević’s injuries were also recorded by foreign experts hired by HRA for the purposes of this case. They concluded that hematomas, scratches and minor abrasions were randomly distributed throughout Boljević’s body, including his neck, chest, arms and legs, and that his pain and suffering were highly consistent with his allegations that he was kicked with feet and beaten with palms and baseball bats during his arrest on 25 May 2020. Domestic and foreign experts additionally established the existence of post-traumatic stress syndrome in Boljević, as a consequence of police torture.
This case is connected with the ill-treatment of other persons as part of the same investigation of the so-called “bombing attacks”. For extorting a statement from Benjamin Mugoša, state prosecutor Snežana Šišević filed charges against police inspector Dalibor Ljekočević, who was also accused of extorting a statement from Marko Boljević. No one has yet been charged with extorting a statement from Jovan Grujičić, who was wrongly accused of planting explosives and has since been finally acquitted, even though international experts have determined that he too was a victim of ill-treatment. In that case, the Higher State Prosecutor’s Office revoked the decision on the dismissal of the criminal report by the basic state prosecutor in Podgorica, Maja Knežević, for the second time.
More information about this case can be found on the website of the Human Rights Action, in the press releases and in the report entitled “The Effectiveness of Investigations of Ill-Treatment in Montenegro in 2020-2021”.
The Human Rights Action monitors all criminal proceedings involving coordinated extortion of testimony in this case, from the aspect of the application of international standards for the prohibition of torture in Montenegro.