There is no political will to adequately end the court proceedings for war crimes

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) is hoping that re-trial of defendants for war crimes at the camp Morinj that begun in 14 March, which will be continued tomorrow before the criminal chamber of judge Milenka Žižić in High Court, will not result with another unperformed indictments that would make justice for victims even more distant and unattainable.

CCE considers that particular attention should be paid to the events in Dubrovnik, where the prisoners from Morinj protested at the border crossing in Karasovici, expressing dissatisfaction with the course of prosecuting those responsible for war crimes in Morinj. They reminded that according to their data only from the Dubrovnik-Neretva County 292 inmates finished in Morinj, and for their torture, even today, six years from the start of the trial in Podgorica, there is no end in sight to the trial. From yesterday’s protest was also requested that the court proceeding should be continued before the Croatian judiciary, due to the fact that the procedure in Montenegro is transformed into a judicial farce, as they claimed.

CCE warned also earlier about the inadequate access to the prosecution of war crimes in Montenegro. If each charge of the Prosecution for war crimes falls, there is a reasonable doubt to believe that these processes are deliberately going slowly and ineffectively, and that there is no strong political will in Montenegro to face the facts about war crimes.

Accused for the crime in Morinj are Ivo Menzalin, Ivo Gojnic, Spiro Lucic and Boro Gligić. They were sentenced to a total of 12 years imprisonment on 25 January 2012, but the Appelate Court in July 2012 overturned the conviction of these four persons, and confirmed the decision that Mladjan Govedarica and Zlatko Tarle are released from all charges. The case was remitted for a new trial, and according to the explanation in set aside the judgment, the four accused of war crimes against prisoners committed crime with intent, knowing that prisoners were a protected category. Since the beginning of the repeated process, during the trials on 14 and 19 March none of the witnesses appeared, so their testimonies were read, and the four defendants have not presented defense remaining at the previously given statements that they have not committed a crime for which they are charged in the indictment.

CCE estimates that a very bad message is sent by the prolongation of the trials, including the fact that the trials carried out are being delayed for years already. This gives the right to victims and witnesses to lose confidence in the Montenegrin judicial authorities, and for such course of trial and the indictment it is necessary to establish liability. The judicial system would have to operate more efficiently and with awareness that judgments, in addition to the punishment of perpetrators, have wider social significance and contribute to the establishment or renewal of relations between citizens’ of countries in the region.

Mirela Rebronja, programme coordinator