The expected continuation of the trial for the crime of coerced testimony accompanied by severe violence against the victim, Benjamin Mugoša, has been postponed once again. The presiding judge granted the request of the new defense attorney for the accused, Ljekočević, allowing him time to familiarize himself with the case and prepare for the next hearing. Ljekočević’s defense attorney also requested copies of the case files. One of the witnesses, employed at Security Center Podgorica, did not appear at the hearing, but the court receipt confirming the delivery of the summons was not returned, leading to uncertainty about his awareness of the hearing.
It is worth noting that Benjamin Mugoša was apprehended on May 27, 2020, by the Security Center Podgorica, suspected of “bomb attacks” related to the detonation of an explosive device near a catering facility in Podgorica and another one near the house of a former high-ranking police official. The next day, May 28. 2020. Mugoša reported allegations of torture.
Regarding the “bomb attacks” during that period, Jovan Grujičić and Marko Boljević were apprehended. According to Jovan Grujičić, he was brought to the premises of the Security Center Podgorica to confess that he had activated both explosive devices on his own, with Mugoša driving him during the commission of the crime attributed to him. Based on Marko Boljević’s statement, he was apprehended on May 25. 2020, at the Security Center Podgorica to extort a statement from him accusing Grujičić and Mugoša as the perpetrators.
A day after reporting the torture, on May 29. In 2020, Mugoša underwent a medical examination, which revealed bruises on his head and other injuries around his nose and right eye. Following the torture report, the police officers involved were identified by Benjamin Moguša. The initial identification involved four police officers who had prepared the detention record. It wasn’t until after nine more witnesses were examined in 2022 that Benjamin Mugoša identified Police Inspector Dalibor Lješković from the Security Center Podgorica as the person who had tortured him to coerce a statement.
The indictment was filed by state prosecutor Ivana Šišević on June 1st, 2022. This shows that the state prosecution’s actions were inefficient in terms of case formation, as torture allegations were reported on May 27. 2020. It took almost two years to form the case, which is unacceptable from an efficiency standpoint.
The trial and the first hearing are scheduled for October 3, 2022. were postponed because the accused, Dalibor Ljekočević, did not attend, and the court did not receive a justification for his absence despite the summons being duly delivered. On November 16th, 2022. the second attempt to hold the hearing was also postponed because the accused, Ljekočević, did not appear, citing health problems, with his attorney providing the court with the justification for his absence.
The third hearing was scheduled for January 11. 2023, and was once again postponed. The absence of the acting prosecutor, Nadja Jovanović, was cited as the reason. However, the Prosecutor’s Office stated that the prosecutor was informed shortly before the hearing that it would be postponed, meaning that the procedural elements for the main trial were not fulfilled, and her attendance was unnecessary. The absence of two witnesses, who were duly summoned, and Ljekočević himself was also stated as a reason for the postponement. In this instance, the accused police officer, Dalibor Ljekočević, justified his absence by injuries sustained in a traffic accident.
The presiding judge requested an expert examination of medical documentation to determine if Ljekočević could still attend the trial despite his injuries.
There were two more attempts to hold the hearings. It was only on May 19. 2023. at the Basic Court in Podgorica, where Dalibor Ljekočević was heard.,
The accused, Ljekočević, denied guilt and emphasized that he would only respond to the court’s questions, not those of other participants in the proceedings. He presented his defense on his own, as his new attorney did not submit a power of attorney to the court, nor did they attend the trial. However, the judge decided to proceed with the trial, as a defense attorney is not required by law for the crime he is charged with, considering the duration of the proceedings.
On June 26, 2023, the trial continued at the Basic Court in Podgorica, where the victim, Benjamin Mugoša, was heard. On that occasion, he detailed everything from the moment he was taken to the premises of the CB Podgorica. Unlike Grujičić and Boljević, Mugoša mentioned a dark room as the place of abuse, where he arrived by elevator accompanied by police officers. When taken from the office of the criminal police to the room described by Mugoša as the place of abuse, he had two balaclavas on his head. He said they repeatedly told him to “Confess, confess” and asked if he knew anything about the explosion near the catering facility. Mugoša said that afterward, Dalibor Ljekočević put on boxing gloves and hit him mainly in the stomach, head, and genitals, that he was tortured with electroshocks, and a gun was fired near his head. He also stated that he recognized the police officer Ljekočević by the sound of the watch he wore on his wrist. Accused Ljekočević and Mugoša’s representative had no further questions, so Mugoša only answered the court’s specific questions.
The accused police officer of the Police Administration, Dalibor Ljekočević, was arrested upon the order of the Higher Public Prosecutor’s Office due to well-founded suspicion of committing the criminal offense of “unauthorized production and trafficking of narcotic drugs” and has been in custody since February 2023. Since then, he has been brought from pretrial detention to the trials held at the Basic Court in Podgorica for the coercion of statements from Benjamin Mugoša.
It is important to note that in the proceedings related to the “Bomb attacks,” it was established that Benjamin Mugosa was serving a prison sentence during the activation of both explosive devices and was acquitted of the charges.
The representative of the Civil Alliance will attend the next hearing scheduled for October 20, 2023, at 11:00 AM.
Civil Alliance will continue to actively monitor this and other trials related to cases of torture within the framework of the project “No Impunity for Violations and Infringement of Human Rights in Montenegro,” with the support of the European Union Delegation in Montenegro and co-financing from the Ministry of Public Administration.