Centre for Civic Education (CCE) yesterday received a letter in form of a notice from Deputy Basic state prosecutor in Podgorica Vukas Radonjić that part of a criminal complaint, which the CCE submitted on 23 January 2015 against Sanja Vlahović, Milan Babović and a John Doe, for the criminal act of violation of moral rights of author and interpreter was dismissed. As a reason for the dismissal for the part of the complaint, which refers to Sanja Vlahović, prosecutor stated the statute of limitation.
CCE underlines that, in stating the reasons for the dismissal of criminal complaint, the prosecutor started from the determined time of perpetration of criminal offense which was the 06/05/2013 and notes that it was “long before the submission of criminal complaint and knowledge of state prosecutor for the reported criminal act”. But, the law knows no construction such as “long before”, only the specific and precisely determined deadlines – hour, day and year – when assessing whether the consequence or the statute of limitations took place. Hence, the CCE considers that the aforementioned construction is unprofessional and unlawful.
The Criminal Code prescribes that criminal prosecution may not be taken after the expiration of three years from the perpetration of a criminal offense punishable by a sentence of imprisonment exceeding one year. This criminal offense is punishable by a sentence of three years of imprisonment, and given that current prosecutor himself already established that the time of perpetration of criminal act is 06/05/2013, the statute of limitations he invokes, comes into force only next year, or in 2016!
Also, CCE reasonably suspects that current prosecutor was waiting for the new Law on criminal procedure to come into force on 15/08/2015, so that he could send the notice then, and having in mind that the obligation of submitting the Decision on case with an explanation which involves basic facts for his legal opinion is annulled based on new Law.
Furthermore, since the statute of limitation comes into force from the day when the consequence took place, in this specific instance we have a textbook example that current prosecutor determined the date when the consequence of criminal offense took place, but from unknown reasons, he failed to apply more than enough clear legal norms in further proceedings, based on which the statute of limitations is terminated with every procedural action undertaken in order to investigate criminal offense, or to investigate and prosecute the perpetrator due to the perpetrated criminal offense.
CCE informs the public that since the submission of criminal complaint it contacted Prosecution on numerous occasions, thereby asking about the outcome of that complaint, and that every time we received oral assurances that the appropriate procedural actions are being undertaken, in terms of addressing the office of Interpol, as well as that they conducted informative interviews in this proceeding, which we believe can be determined with an insight into the case files. Also, media reported on these actions, which was also never denied by the competent prosecutor.
In short, in this particular case, there were no circumstances neither for the relative or for the absolute statute of limitation! What is of special concern is that the prosecutor came to this legally unfounded conclusion after 8 months of work on this case, and considering that it takes only 15 seconds on Internet search engines to find the date on which he makes his claim and from which he wrongly accounted the time of the limitation!
Due to all this, CCE used its legal possibilities and upon the receipt of Basic State Prosecutor’s notice addressed the Higher State Prosecution with a request to annul this decision of Basic State Prosecutor, so that the further proceeding based on criminal complaint could be continued in a legal and an efficient manner. Ivica Stanković, Supreme State Prosecutor, and Zoran Pažin, Minister of Justice, were informed on this.
CCE assesses that it is very important for the Prosecution to prove that the law is implemented non-selectively and without inappropriate political influences. Finally, the Prosecution needs to have certain level of sensibility when criminal complaints are related to public officials, and in those cases needs to act promptly and in shortened procedure, in order to protect public interest so that the public does not get the impression that those who have power are allowed to do anything, even to take advantage of the institutions which have to enforce the law.
Daliborka Uljarević, Executive Director