The prosecutor cannot recall details; the Chief of the Criminal Police will be re-examined.
He trialed for the criminal offense of extorting statements accompanied by severe violence against the victim, Marko Boljević, continued today at the Basic Court in Podgorica. State prosecutor Ivana Vuksanović, proposed by the victim’s counsel, was heard. A representative of the Civic Alliance attended the trial, an organization our group consistently follows.
The court case for police torture against Marko Boljević started in 2022. As stated in the indictment, Marko Boljević suffered police torture while investigating the “bomb attacks” that occurred in Podgorica in May 2020. Boljević alleges that he was asked to give a false statement accusing an individual he had no knowledge of committing the crime known as the “bomb attacks.” Criminal inspectors Danilo Grbović, Dalibor Ljekočević, Bojan Vujačić, Ivan Peruničić, and Nemanja Vujošević are accused of extorting statements from Boljević. Ljekočević is accused in another case of committing the same act against Benjamin Mugoša, a case that is still pending at the Basic Court in Podgorica.
At today’s trial, state prosecutor Vuksanović, responding to the victim’s counsel’s questions, stated, among other things, that she could not recall the details of the event when the victim came to give a statement, namely, she could not recall who brought him, how he was brought, nor could she remember if she had the record of the victim’s statement given as a citizen before the police.
Prosecutor Vuksanović stated that she did not notice any injuries on the victim Boljević, which she would otherwise have noted and acted accordingly with specific official procedures. She also stated that Boljević did not indicate any use of violence (either physical or verbal) by the police officers and that such allegations would have been recorded.
When asked by the defense counsel for the police officers if the prosecutor was aware of any regulations or guidelines within the prosecutor’s office in case there is suspicion of a torture victim, Vuksanović stated that she knew something similar existed, but such a thing had been in place before she became a prosecutor. Nevertheless, she emphasized that these cases are always handled in accordance with international and domestic conventions, and if it is observed that someone has been subjected to torture, a note is made of it.
The proposal of the victim, Marko Boljević’s counsel, to hear the witness, Srđan Milikić, was accepted. Also, the defense’s proposal to re-examine Srđan Korać as a witness, who had already stated at the previous hearing, was accepted. It is important to note that Korać was the head of the Criminal Police Unit charged with this criminal offense.
The trial is scheduled to resume on October 11. 2023. starting at 12:00.
Marko Boljević reported the torture in May 2020, and he has been waiting for a first-instance court decision for over two and a half years. In cases of this nature, time is certainly needed for a thorough evidentiary process and to consider all circumstances that have influenced the torture report.
However, it is evident that procedures must be conducted more efficiently and in line with a reasonable time for trial. As the legal team of the Civic Alliance continues to monitor trials related to possible police torture, some witnesses have already given statements claiming not to remember specific details, citing the time elapsed between the events and the testimonies.
It is worth noting that the start of the trial for the torture case involving five criminal investigators of the Criminal Police Unit has been postponed multiple times.
The trial was initially scheduled for September 15. 2022. was postponed, citing the improper delivery of the summons to one of the accused police officers. Then, the second scheduled trial was postponed; this time, the reason for the delay was the illness of two accused inspectors.
The following scheduling was the third attempt for November 28. 2022. which was also postponed. Namely, the lawyer representing the accused filed a request to exclude the acting state prosecutor and the entire Basic State Prosecutor’s Office in Podgorica, suspecting bias. The Higher Public Prosecutor’s Office responded to the exclusion request, rejecting it, and a new trial was scheduled for January 25, 2023. However, the trial did not begin this time either due to the inability of one of the accused to attend for health reasons.
At the fifth scheduled hearing on March 6. 2023. the main trial started with the defense lawyers’ request to exclude the public. The presiding judge of the Basic Court in Podgorica rejected this proposal, stating that the procedural prerequisites for excluding the public were not met, nor did the nature of the proceedings require it. Also, the defense’s proposal to exclude the testimonies of witnesses Marko Boljević and his father Goran was not acceptable to the court. The defendants’ defense found the reason for their request in the fact that Benjamin and Goran Mugoša did not attend the giving of statements as they were not known at the time of their detention. The trial continued with the reading of the indictment and presenting the defense.
On the sixth hearing on May 4. 2023. witnesses Marko Boljević, his father Goran, and two police officers who handed Boljević over to the criminal police inspectors were heard. All of them stood by their statements made before the prosecutor’s office. Marko Boljević stated that the police officers tortured him with electroshock devices, threatened him with harm to his family and girlfriend, strangled him, and threatened him with a gun next to his head, all to extort a false statement. The victim’s father, Goran, stated that the injuries his son suffered were clearly visible and provided a detailed account of the injuries and how he communicated with his son while he was in custody.
At the beginning of the trial held on June 7 of this year, two witnesses who conducted the polygraph examination on the court expert in the medical field were heard. During the procedure, the victim’s counsel and the prosecutor requested additional evidence, on which the judge would decide later, while the defense counsel opposed introducing new evidence—except for one, considering it unnecessary to prolong the proceedings. The victim, Marko Boljević, did not attend the trial, and his father, Goran Boljević, who was heard as a witness at the previous trial, attended the proceedings.
The trial continued on July 7 of this year with the testimony of witness Srđan Korać, the head Unit for combating blood crimes and domestic violence, while the victim was not present.
During the proceedings, the witness emphasized that he received the allegations of torture later, after the questioning before the inspectors and later before the prosecutor, and that Boljević cooperated quite well with them in the process, so the charges of coercion have no foundation. Answering the prosecutor’s questions, Korać emphasized that none of the accused told him that force had been used, and he would certainly have been aware if there had been any abuse of authority. He also noted that this would have been noticed by the other parties and employees, given that the questioning took place in the morning when the hearing rooms are usually full because it was stated that Boljević was tortured for hours. He also recalled the polygraph examination and how it could not be conducted with a victim of violence because the person giving the answers must be calm, and the answers must be given voluntarily.
Civic Alliance will continue to actively monitor this and other trials related to cases of torture under the project “No Impunity for Violations and Abuses of Human Rights in Montenegro,” supported by the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro.