Case clear, unclear the court which allow prolongation

The Centre for Civic Education (CCE) expresses suspicion that the trial before the Basic Courts in Podgorica in the case against Bojana Lakićević Đuranović, associate professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Montenegro, accused of plagiarism, lasts an inappropriately long time for the accused to avoid indisputable responsibility.

The CCE, 14 months ago, on 8 July 2019, submitted a criminal charge against Lakićević Đuranović due to a well-founded suspicion that she committed plagiarism, ie the criminal offense of intellectual property theft under Article 233, paragraphs 1, 2, 3 of the Criminal Code of Montenegro. Based on that criminal charge and the reconnaissance, the Basic State Prosecutor’s Office filed the indictment on 20 September 2019. The first hearing was held on 5 November 2019, and until today – after seven hearings – the procedure has not essentially moved beyond the beginning. Additionally, it seems that there will be no progress on 27 October 2020, when the next hearing is scheduled.

The reasons for the absence of the accused or her lawyer under the justification of illness, non-receipt of the court post, or waiting for the decisions of other judicial and administrative bodies in this matter are model examples of time buying, delaying proceedings, and contempt of court. It is especially surprising that the judge in charge, Nada Rabrenović, allows that and hence contributing to the meaninglessness of this procedure and further damage to the reputation of the court. Namely, the criminal judge is not bound by the decision of the administrative judge because the administrative dispute has nothing to do with the criminal procedure in the specific case, and Judge Rabrenović just allows the accused and her defense that manipulation.

The CCE reminds that the Ethics Committee in the case of three works by Lakićević-Đuranović determined that these were obvious plagiarism. She appealed to the Administrative Court due to formal legal oversights in the proceedings of plagiarism detection. Regardless the decision of the Administrative Court, it cannot annul the fact that Lakićević Đuranović plagiarized those three works, which is the essence of the decision, and the Administrative Court does not comment on that. Amongst those three plagiarized works is the work of Đorđije Drinčić, a former student of Lakićević Đuranović, to whom she was also a mentor, which makes her act even more problematic in ethical and all other aspects.

The CCE considers that there is enough evidence, so this dispute can close and that Lakićević Đuranović must be processed accordingly as nothing can change the facts. For the public sake, we provide another insight into the similarities and differences in the expert paper of Lakićević Đuranović and the graduate thesis for specialist studies of Drinčić, and in addition to what is clear to the layman, both the Faculty of Law Commission and the Ethics Committee, in separate proceedings, determined that Lakićević Đuranović plagiarized this work.

The CCE believes that the practice of manipulating proceedings before the judiciary must be stopped because it weakens the trust of citizens in the judiciary. Also, judges who allow this further contribute to system “blockade” and this must be taken into account in the assessment of their work.

Snežana Kaluđerović, Senior legal advisor