The trial of five police inspectors, who were accused of extorting testimony from Marko Boljević on 25 May 2020 by using severe violence in the investigation of the “bombing attacks”, continued yesterday at the Basic Court in Podgorica.
The person who testified was State Prosecutor Ivana Vuksanović, who interrogated Boljević at the Basic State Prosecutor’s Office (BSPO) in Podgorica after the ill-treatment which, according to the indictment, he was subjected to by police officers.
Vuksanović said that on the evening in question she was instructed by the head of the BSPO in Podgorica to interrogate Boljević in the capacity of prosecutor on duty. Boljević, she said, “wanted to give a statement regarding an earlier case, in which she had not participated”.
She also said that she did not notice any injuries on his body that evening, and that Boljević did not complain to her about any unlawful behaviour by police officers. According to Vuksanović, this is obvious also from the fact that she did not open a case to investigate allegations of torture, which otherwise would have been her statutory obligation. She found out about the torture of Boljević a few days later, from the media.
Vuksanović replied that she either did not remember or did not know whether Boljević came to the prosecutor’s office alone or accompanied by police officers; whether she communicated with representatives of the Police Administration on that occasion; whether she was in possession of the case file regarding which Boljević was making a statement, or possibly the record of his interrogation by the police; and whether she even communicated with the prosecutor who was in charge of the investigation in the case of “bombing attacks” on Grand and the house of Duško Golubović, in connection with which Boljević was providing a statement.
As the main hearing continued, the representative of the injured party, attorney Novica Milošević, proposed to the Court that the findings of foreign experts following the medical examination of Marko Boljević’s injuries be presented as evidence. These are top medical experts, members of the Independent Forensic Expert Group – IFEG, who have examined thousands of torture victims around the world and were hired by HRA in this case thanks to the urgent financial support of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. Three medical experts concluded that hematomas, scratches and minor scratches – which were randomly distributed all over Boljević’s body including his neck, chest, arms and legs – as well as the pain and suffering he felt were highly consistent with his allegations of being kicked/beaten with feet, palms and baseball bats while being arrested on 25 May 2020. The existence of post-traumatic stress syndrome as a consequence of police torture was established as well.
The defendants’ attorneys opposed the above proposal because, as they said, “a final court decision cannot be made based on this evidence because expert examinations must be carried out on the order of the prosecutor, not as part of some private arrangement”. The court has yet to give a final opinion on the proposal.
The HRA points out that, in this case, there is the report of a domestic expert on the injuries that were inflicted on Marko Boljević. This expert also confirmed that injuries could have been inflicted at the time and in the manner reported by Boljević, and his report was made based on the order of the competent state prosecutor. However, the report of the international experts is more detailed; it is also aligned with the methodology of the UN Istanbul Protocol and therefore also contains the report of a psychiatric expert whose exceptional experience includes working with victims of torture in many countries of the world. The HRA believes that, in order to be able to fully assess the extent of police ill-treatment and its consequences in this case, the Court should also take this report into consideration.
The trial is scheduled to continue on 11 October at 12:00 p.m., when Srdjan Korać, head of the criminal police station for the suppression of violent crimes and domestic violence at the Security Centre in Podgorica will testify once again. He was the immediate superior of the defendants and the leader of the police operation in which Boljević was interrogated and ill-treated, and in which Jovan Grujičić and Benjamin Mugoša were subsequently interrogated and ill-treated as well.
Special Prosecutor Miroslav Turković, who at the time of the event in question was the head of the BSPO in Podgorica, will also be heard.
Human Rights Action (HRA) will continue to monitor the trial and advocate for a comprehensive investigation and punishment of torture in accordance with international standards that are binding on Montenegro.