One year without a prosecutor’s decision on report against Banja Luka police officers

Vladimir Kovačević

Banja Luka

January the 14th 2021. 16: 34

The Banja Luka District Prosecutor’s Office has not made a prosecutorial decision against nine police officers for a year since filing charges of unlawful deprivation of liberty, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIRN BiH) has confirmed. While the Prosecutor’s Office says that the investigation is in the final phase and that they expect a decision to be made soon, activists point out the lack of information they receive from this institution and how they received a similar answer before, but the decision was not made.

The charges against the police were filed by Banja Luka activists for, as stated in the report that BIRN BiH had access to, the illegal deprivation of liberty on December the 30th 2018.

A member of the informal group “Justice for David”, Ozren Perduv, says that four months ago they received an answer from the Prosecutor’s Office that the decision will be made soon, but that they were never informed about any decision later.

“I am aware that this is a very serious case because you need to have the guts and courage to file an indictment against nine police officers. People who sought truth and justice were persecuted like beasts and deprived of their liberty. They came to my doorstep at half past one in the morning, woke up my family and deprived me of my freedom. “We have been charged with shouting ‘Justice!’ And thus disturbing public order and peace,” Perduv told Balkan Investigative Reporting Network of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIRN BiH).

On the penultimate day of 2018, citizens gathered in Banja Luka, led by the father of the murdered David Dragičević, Davor. After a protest walk through the streets of Banja Luka, the police interrupted the gathering and arrested a number of citizens, mostly activists of the informal group “Justice for David”. This was the last large gathering of citizens who sought a solution to the “David Dragičević” case in Banja Luka.

On January the 8th last year, Perduv filed a criminal complaint with the Banja Luka District Prosecutor’s Office against nine Banja Luka police officers for, as he stated in the report, illegal deprivation of liberty of him and seven other people on December the 30th 2018. Perduv recalls that, after his arrest, he was kept in custody all night and was not released until the next day. He also claims that he did not receive any feedback from the District Prosecutor’s Office after filing the criminal complaint.

“When we addressed the Prosecutor’s Office with a request for access to information, we did not receive an answer. That is why we complained to the Human Rights Ombudsman and, only after the Ombudsman called the Prosecutor’s Office, did we receive a response from the Chief Prosecutor Želimir Lepir “, says Perduv and adds that the response states that a short investigation and that the prosecutor will make a prosecutorial decision in due course”.

The Banja Luka Police Administration and the Republic of Srpska’s Ministry of the Interior did not respond to BIRN BiH’s request for comment on the criminal charges against the police officers. The Police Administration of Banja Luka and the Ministry of the Interior have previously refused to comment on everything related to the reports against police officers, but also on giving up the misdemeanor prosecution of activists.

The Banja Luka District Prosecutor’s Office briefly replied that they were still working on the case.

“We would like to inform you that the mentioned case is in the works, in the final phase of the investigation, and a final prosecutor’s decision can be expected soon,” they stated in the response from the Prosecutor’s Office.

Lawyer Jovana Kisin, who filed a criminal complaint on behalf of Ozren Perduv, points out that the Prosecution had to end the investigation, file an indictment or issue an order to suspend the investigation within six months, but that this was not done.

“Unfortunately, the Criminal Procedure Code does not give the injured party much space to participate and be informed about the course of the investigation, but so far none of the injured parties has been invited to give a statement on the circumstances of the criminal complaint, which, in my opinion, should be done. “In any case, there are witnesses who can confirm the illegal actions that the suspects are charged with, but we do not have information about that kind of actions taken by the Prosecution,” says Kisin.

At the end of 2019, the Basic Court in Banja Luka acquitted activists who were accused by the police in Banja Luka of violating entity laws by organizing public rallies in December 2018, i.e. a rally organized on December the 17th that year. These rallies were organized due to dissatisfaction with the investigation into the murder of David Dragičević.

David Dragičević disappeared on March the 18th 2018. His body was found on March the 24th at the mouth of the Crkvena River in Vrbas in Banja Luka. The original investigation claimed that the death was caused by drowning without elements of a crime. Three months later, the Banja Luka District Prosecutor’s Office issued an order to conduct an investigation against N.N. persons for the murder of David Dragičević. The investigation has not revealed the perpetrators so far.

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