The Human Rights Action (HRA) is protesting the decision of the basic state prosecutor in Podgorica, Maja Knežević, to dismiss for the third time the criminal charges against all 10 police officers reported for torturing Jovan Grujičić in May 2020.
The medical findings confirmed that Grujičić was tortured at the Podgorica Security Centre on 26 May 2020, while in custody of the above officers. On that occasion, Grujičić was forced to falsely accuse himself of planting explosive devices in the house of a state security officer Duško Golubović and the bar “Grand”. In the meantime, the court acquitted him in a binding decision of the charges of planting explosives, finding that they were based, among other things, on extorted testimony.
The HRA believes that the third decision to dismiss the criminal charges is the result of an ineffective investigation. We expect the Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office to take over the case from the Basic Prosecutor’s Office in Podgorica and finally ensure respect for human rights.
There has been no progress in this case for almost three years, even though torture in the police has been proven and has attracted the attention of international organisations and foreign embassies, which have called for an urgent, independent and thorough investigation. Five police officers were accused of torturing Marko Boljević and Benjamin Mugoša in two other related cases. Inspector Dalibor Ljekočević was accused of torturing both of them, and was subsequently arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking. However, none of their superiors, who have led the action against all three injured parties, were charged.
In a letter to the new Acting Supreme State Prosecutor, Tatjana Begović, and the head of the High State Prosecutor’s Office in Podgorica, Lepa Medenica, the Executive Director of HRA, Tea Gorjanc Prelević, requested that the investigation in this case be taken over by the Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office or one of the high state prosecutor’s offices.
“Rule of law cannot be considered to exist in a state where proven police torture remains unpunished. Hiding the torturer of Jovan Grujičić is devastating for the State Prosecutor’s Office, the Police Administration of Montenegro and the Ministry of the Interior”, said Gorjanc-Prelević.
REMINDER: In the case in which there is evidence that the injured party was a victim of police ill-treatment in May 2020, i.e. almost three years ago, no investigation has been opened to date. The case is currently in the phase of pre-investigation involving unknown persons. So far, pre-investigation activities have been carried out by three female state prosecutors from the Basic State Prosecutor’s Office in Podgorica.
The last in the series, state prosecutor Maja Knežević has dismissed the criminal charges against all reported police officers three times so far.
Acting on the complaint of the injured party’s attorney, state prosecutor Željko Tomković from the High State Prosecutor’s Office in Podgorica has so far twice assessed that prosecutor Knežević has unfoundedly dismissed the criminal charges. On both occasions, he ordered her to fully establish the facts of the case, and then make a fair and lawful decision. However, on 13 February 2023, she dismissed the criminal charges for the third time, although the facts of the case have yet to be established.
Three persons were ill-treated during the investigation of the “bombing attacks”. Their ill-treatment must have been planned, very likely by the same police officers, who had the same superiors.
These cases have been investigated in a limited fashion – as individual cases, ignoring the common, larger picture. Among other things, this has led to the situation where criminal charges against all the persons suspected of having extorted statements from Grujičić are now continuously being dismissed, although police officers who were reported for ill-treating Grujičić were also accused of extorting testimony from Marko Boljević and Benjamin Mugoša.
The same police officer who was accused of abusing Marko Boljević and Benjamin Mugoša, Dalibor Ljekočević, was included in the report which stated that he ill-treated Grujičić. He is currently in custody for drug trafficking.
In addition to Ljekočević, state prosecutor Romina Vlahović accused four more inspectors of the Police Administration – Bojan Vujačić, Nemanja Vujošević, Ivan Peruničić and Danilo Grbović – of extorting testimony from Boljević. The first three officers accused of ill-treating Boljević were also reported for torturing Grujičić. They confirmed that they had interrogated him, but state prosecutor Knežević dismissed the charges that were filed against all of them.
Miloš Vučinić, former head of the Security Department of the Criminal Police in SC Podgorica, and Srđan Korać, the current head of the Criminal Police Station for the Suppression of Violent Crime and Domestic Violence, were on the list of suspects in the criminal report concerning the torture of Grujičić, as were inspectors Vukašin Leković, Dalibor Ljekočević, Bojan Vujačić, Nemanja Vujošević, Radoman Vujičić, Miodrag Jovović, Ivan Peruničić and Ljubisav Striković. According to the written documentation, they were in charge of Grujičić and his case on the day he was tortured in SC Podgorica.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, who communicated with the Montenegrin authorities on this occasion, was informed about this case, as well as the Committee against Torture, which expressed concern in the final comments and appealed that all reports of police abuse be effectively investigated. The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, which has not yet published a report on its last visit to Montenegro, was also informed. The case was monitored by the European Commission, as well as the embassies of Great Britain and the USA, which also expressed concern and called for an effective investigation.
Within the HRA programme for the protection of torture victims, financially supported by the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNVFVT), Jovan Grujičić is represented by attorney Damir Lekić.