Suspension of acused police officers is an important message

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) welcomes the decision of the Minister of Interior Raško Konjević to suspend the three officers of the Police Department Podgorica, which were for years accused for participating in the beating of deceased Aleksandar Pejanović, for what the Basic Court convicted them and what the High Court has recently returned for the re-trial.

Namely, the Basic Public Prosecution Office in Podgorica in 2010 accused Ivica Paunović, Milan Kljajević and Milanko Leković because they have, from the 31/10/2008, from 19h00 until 2/11/2008, to 7h00 in the detention premises of the Police Unit Podgorica in Podgorica, as officers of the Office for duty service within detention, by creating conditions and removing obstacles, intentionally helped so far unidentified persons from the Police Directorate in abusing Aleksandar Pejanović, who was deprived from his freedom, and on that occasion he suffered serious body injuries. The indictment states that Kljajević and Leković on 31/10/2008, after 19h, upon taking their shift, transferred Aleksandar Pejanović to the so-called “concrete cell”, and after half an hour unlock the main entrance door of the detention and let the group of 4-5 unidentified persons to enter further into the “concrete cell”. Meanwhile, they have turned off the room light in the “concrete cell”, from the office for the officers, thus eliminating all obstacles and creating conditions for unidentified persons to enter the room where Pejanović was and where these persons hit him with hands, foots and batons all over his head and body. Furthermore, on 1/11/2008 the defendant Paunović, around 20h00, upon taking shift, enabled a group of 6-7 unidentified persons to brutally beat again Pejanović in the same manner. The doctors noted a number of serious injuries after the release of Pejanović from the custody. Briefly, these three police officers are accused of committing a criminal act of serious physical injury by helping – Art 151 para 1 in relation with Art 25 of the Criminal Code – in conjunction with the criminal offense of torture and ill-treatment by helping – Art 167 para 3 in relation with para 2 of the Criminal Code, in relation with Art. 25 of the Criminal Code. The Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office concludes in its indictment that during the pre-trial was indisputably established that Paunović, Kljajević and Leković by their actions made all the essential elements of the crime they were charged by the indictment.

During previous proceedings, the police officer Goran Stanković significantly helped to clarify the present case, where he, as the first police insider suffered pressure from police forces that undermined his health and led to his early departure from the police. Unfortunately, Stanković never received adequate support from the police for his extremely brave act that suggested that within the police structures there are honest professionals who are at a critical point still ready to resist illegal orders.

Meanwhile neither the previous Minister nor Directors of the Police Management have suspended the accused police officers, which was their legal obligation, thus tacitly supporting the defendants and further undermining public confidence in the police. In this context, Konjević’s decision is not only an expression of respect of the law, but we hope a strong message to members of the police forces who were with the accused officers that such behavior is unacceptable, that for the same zero understanding and tolerance can be expressed and that these persons must be efficiently prosecuted.

CCE expresses hope that the re-trial will expose the others involved in the perfidious beating of Pejanović, but also people who ordered that crime.

Tamara Milaš
Programme Associate