In a letter to the Minister of the Interior Filip Adzić, and the Director of Police Administration Zoran Brdjanin, the Executive Director of the NGO Human Rights Action (HRA) Tea Gorjanc Prelević expressed her protest over the fact that, more than 10 months after the initiation of criminal proceedings for the extortion of testimony by police officers from Marko Boljević, accompanied by severe violence, the MoI did not suspend all criminal inspectors who were accused for that crime: Danilo Grbović, Bojan Vujačić, Ivan Peruničić, Dalibor Ljekočević and Nemanja Vujošević. On Friday, 3 March 2023, defendant Nemanja Vujošević made two public appearances (on Radio Television Montenegro and television “E”) as a representative of the Police Administration regarding the incident that took place in the Basic Court in Podgorica.
Gorjanc Prelević said that the postponement of suspension and the promotion of those accused of police torture into representatives of the Police Administration indicates that, unfortunately, the repeated recommendation of international organisations – that torture must be condemned and suppressed from the highest government positions – has not been accepted at all.
The HRA was informed that in July 2022 Minister Adzić was forwarded the reasoned proposal of the head of the Security Centre in Podgorica to temporarily remove from duty Danilo Grbović, Dalibor Ljekočević, Bojan Vujačić, Ivan Peruničić and Nemanja Vujošević, so we assumed that suspension was to follow. However, the fact that Vujošević, and quite possibly other defendants as well, are still employed 10 months after the initiation of criminal proceedings for a criminal offence committed while on duty or in connection with duty, represents a direct violation of the Law on Internal Affairs of Montenegro and international standards prohibiting torture. Back in 2014, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) expressly demanded that all civil servants who are under investigation for acts of ill-treatment be immediately removed from duty, and remain removed for the entire duration of the proceedings. The Committee repeated the demand in May 2022. The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) said the same in 2017.
HRA expects the Minister of Internal Affairs to explain why he postponed the suspension of Nemanja Vujošević and/or the other accused officials. We expect the MoI and the Police Administration to identify all other civil servants who organised, directly carried out and covered up the torture of Marko Boljević, Benjamin Mugoša and Jovan Grujičić.
Better luck the sixth time?!
Yesterday, the beginning of the trial for the criminal offence of extorting a statement from victim Marko Boljević accompanied by severe police violence was postponed by the Basic Court in Podgorica for the fifth time. The next hearing is scheduled for 6 April 2023. Since the first main hearing was scheduled for 15 September 2022, this means that the start of this trial for a severe form of police torture will be delayed for at least 7 months.
The hearing was postponed because it was not attended either by defendants, i.e. criminal inspectors of the Security Centre in Podgorica Danilo Grbović, Bojan Vujačić, Ivan Peruničić and Nemanja Vujošević, or their attorneys, or the competent state prosecutor Romina Vlahović. The only person who was present was the fifth defendant, inspector Dalibor Ljekočević, who was brought in from detention, where he is currently in custody on suspicion of drug trafficking.
As the court is obliged to take care that the proceedings are carried out efficiently, while respecting the right to a trial within a reasonable time, it remains unclear why Judge Larisa Stamatović Mijušković did not issue an order to bring the defendants in by force, as they did not justify their absence and were duly summoned. It is also unclear why she did not sanction defence attorneys who failed to appear at the hearing.
We remind that Marko Boljević, Benjamin Mugoša and Jovan Grujičić were tortured in May 2020 in police premises, during the investigation of the “bombing attacks” on the house of state security officer Duško Golubović and the bar “Grand”. On 16 May 2022, criminal proceedings were initiated against criminal inspectors Danilo Grbović, Dalibor Ljekočević, Bojan Vujačić, Ivan Peruničić and Nemanja Vujošević for an attempt to extort testimony from Boljević. Ljekočević was accused of committing the same crime also against Benjamin Mugoša, while no one has been indicted yet for the torture of Grujičić.
The Human Rights Action monitors these criminal proceedings and advocates for the investigation and punishment of torture in accordance with the international standards that are binding on Montenegro. We believe that the State Prosecutor’s Office and the Police Administration have an obligation to thoroughly investigate the responsibility of not only the accused inspectors, but also the police managers who coordinated the investigation of the bombings and were the superiors of direct perpetrators of torture.
For more information about this case, please visit the website of the Human Rights Action and see the report “Effectiveness of Investigations of Ill-Treatment in Montenegro 2020-2021”.
As part of the HRA program for the protection of the victims of torture, financially supported by the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNVFVT), Marko Boljević is represented by attorney Novica Milošević.