Report from the third zoom debate: OPEN ABOUT JUDICIARY!

The Association of Citizens “Path of Justice” Banja Luka with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) in cooperation with the Association “Justice for David and All Children of Bosnia and Herzegovina” organizes a series of public debates OPEN ABOUT POLICE, PROSECUTORSHIP, JUDICIARY AND POLITICS!

Citizens’ Association “Path of Justice” Banja Luka, founded by human rights activists “Justice for David” in cooperation with the association “Justice for David and all children of Bosnia and Herzegovina” Vienna, Austria with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) – For Social democracy, organizes a series of Zoom public debates on the topic: OPEN ABOUT THE POLICE, PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE, JUDICIARY AND POLITICS! Leading representatives of the institutions of the system covered by the topic of debate are invited to each Zoom session. In addition to them, the invitation was sent to all those interested in public and political life.

Debate report: OPEN JUDICIARY!

Third Public Zoom Debate

After successfully holding two Zoom sessions: Public debates on the topic of the Police and the Prosecutor’s Office, we successfully organized a third debate: Open about justice! The debate was held on April the 24th 2021, from 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm via the Zoom platform. The technical moderators of the debate were Justice for David activists: Sofija Grmuša, Jelena Marjanović and Merlina Ivić. In parallel, a live broadcast was made through social media channels. The debate had over 5,000 views on social networks. The moderator of the session was the President of the Assembly of the Association of Citizens “The Path of Justice” Banja Luka, Marko Nikolić.

The participants in the debate are:

Tanja Topić – FES Foundation in BiH, research associate, Banja Luka,

Dejan Lučka, Banja Luka Center for Human Rights

Davor Dragičević, Justice activist for David

Ozren Perduv, President of the Justice Movement Political Party

Human rights activists Justice for David, organizers and representatives of the citizens’ association “The Path of Justice” Banja Luka.

* We especially emphasize the weak response of judges to the summons. Invitations to the debate were sent to all the institutions of the Court and to the judges personally, and none of the judges responded to this invitation. 105 Invitations were sent, of which four judges responded to the invitation that due to private and other obligations he was not able to attend the debate.

During the plenary lecture, Marko Nikolić emphasized the activities towards the Prosecutor’s Office, starting from the 21st of May 2018, when Davor Dragičević submitted to the Republic Prosecutor’s Office a proposal to form a new prosecutorial team in the criminal case of “aggravated murder” to the detriment of David Dragičević. In his request, Dragičević asks the Chief Republic Prosecutor Mahmut Svraka to exclude the case of David’s death from the Chief Prosecutor of Banja Luka Želimir Lepir and his team of prosecutors and to form a new research team.

On June the 14th 2018, Davor Dragičević received an answer from the Chief Republic Prosecutor Mahmut Švraka. The response signed by the Chief Republic Prosecutor Mahmut Švraka states, among other things, that “the Banja Luka District Public Prosecutor’s Office and the prosecutors of that prosecutor’s office, in this particular case, undertook a series of pre-investigation actions in order to establish all relevant facts and circumstances.” therefore, it would not be expedient or justified to exclude the case from the work of the District Public Prosecutor’s Office of Banja Luka, nor to exclude the case from the work of the already acting prosecutorial team “.

On June the 15th 2018, Davor Dragičević submitted a request to initiate disciplinary proceedings and dismissal of Saša Labotić and a request to initiate disciplinary proceedings against prosecutors Želimir Lepir and Mahmut Švraka. On August the 24th 2018, Davor Dragičević reported 13 persons to the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA), including the heads of the RS Ministry of the Interior. They are charged with conspiracy to commit crimes, cover up murder and murderers, obstruction of evidence and the like. Dragan Lukač, Darko Ilić and Željko Karan are among those registered. It can be seen from the above that Davor Dragičević took a number of legal steps in order to fight organized crime and corruption within the judiciary, but none of the described and implemented actions gave results.

During the plenary lecture, the indictment for the disappearance of David’s underwear was especially emphasized. During the investigation, one of the key pieces of evidence disappeared – the underwear of the late David Dragičević. On September the 21st 2018, Alan Kukić pleaded guilty to deleting videos on the order of Đorđe Radjen. In the reasons for ordering custody, the Basic Court stated that by destroying video files and video surveillance, Kukić apparently wanted to “cover up some evidence that is important in shedding light on the murder of the injured party David Dragičević, which the camera faithfully noted because there is clear evidence 20 minute intervals in the video surveillance system “. September the 20th 2018 from the minutes of the interrogation of the suspect compiled on September the 20th 2018 in the premises of the District Public Prosecutor’s Office in Banja Luka, in the criminal case of this Prosecutor’s Office, against Kukić Alen, for the criminal offense, Assistance to the perpetrator after the criminal offense under Article 333, paragraph two, of the RS Criminal Code. The minutes were signed by the then Chief Prosecutor Želimir Lepir.

On October the 29th 2018, Alen Kukić was released from custody for two months. On October the 29,th 2018, the Basic Court of Banja Luka released Alen Kukić. Due to two months in custody, Alen Kukić received 10,000 KM in damages. Decision of the Council of the Basic Court in Banja Luka (October the 29th 2018, by which Alen Kukić was released from custody in which he spent two months), because this document completely denies some of the key allegations in the order not to investigate Darko Ilić, Dubravko Kremenović and other members of the RS Ministry of the Interior. The order was signed by Goran Glamočanin, the pawn of Miodrag Bajić, the Deputy Public Prosecutor.

On December the 6th 2018, lawyer Ifet Feraget filed a complaint with the RS Prosecutor’s Office regarding the failure to conduct an investigation against the head of the Directorate for Organized and Serious Crime of the Republic of Srpska Ministry of Interior, Darko Ilić, and the suspension of the investigation against pathologist Željko Karan. “An illogical and unprofessional analysis of the evidence is being done, consciously and intentionally. If you have evidence that someone has not been to a particular place for some time, and you are still emphasizing that, then it is obvious that you are not leading the investigation in the right direction. Give me 24 hours and with the potential and evidence that the prosecution has, everything will be clear. You don’t need too much intelligence here, “said Ifet Feraget.

Due to the failure to conduct an adequate investigation, Davor Dragičević sent a request for the formation of a new prosecutorial team to the Republic Prosecutor’s Office, but received a negative response from Chief Prosecutor Mahmut Svraka, who is also a member of the High Judicial Prosecutor’s Council. Instead of changing the prosecution team, Mahmut Švraka issued an order to conduct an investigation against the father of the murdered David Dragičević, in order to “endanger the security of the Minister of the Interior, Dragan Lukač”. The case was assigned to the Prijedor District Prosecutor’s Office for action.

Dragan Lukač, Darko Ilić and Darko Ćulum sued Davor Dragičević for defamation and are asking for 8,000 KM each for damages. Davor Dragičević’s lawyer Dragan Tolimir submitted photos from the autopsy findings in the Basic Court in Banja Luka, two preparatory hearings were held, and the third preparatory hearing is scheduled for May the 21st this year. On July the 8th, the Basic Court in Banja Luka held a preparatory hearing on the defamation lawsuit of Đorđe Rađen from Banja Luka against Davor Dragičević, the father of the murdered young man David Dragičević. Rađen sued Davor Dragičević for defamation on June the 14th 2018, demanding to pay him 5,000 convertible marks. because he linked his name to David’s murder. It was ruled in Davor’s favor. The Basic Court rejected Rađen’s accusations, Rađen appealed and in the end on November the 10th 2020 appeal against the verdict was rejected.

The Serbian member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik, filed a defamation lawsuit against Davor Dragičević, the father of the murdered 21-year-old young man from Banja Luka, David Dragičević. Apart from Dragičević, Dodik also sued the Belgrade’s Newspaper “NIN”, his editor Milan Ćulibrk, as well as the publisher of NIN, Ringier Aksa Springer. Dodik is seeking 6,000 convertible marks in damages.

During 2019, the year of repression and persecution, a series of hearings were held, including the first trial on January the 23th 2019, of crime technicians Milkica Marjanac and Zoran Bošnjak. Mikica Marjanac and Zoran Bošnjak are threatened with up to three years in prison on suspicion that his boxers were thrown on March the 25th after the autopsy of David Dragičević. Both pleaded not guilty and shifted the blame to Inspector Siniša Kojdić.

On February the 27th 2019, the Constitutional Court determined that the Prosecutor’s Office was “wandering”. The Banja Luka District Public Prosecutor’s Office is “wandering” when it comes to the investigation into the murder of David Dragičević, the Republic of Srpska’s Constitutional Court states in its decision. This institution determined that the Prosecutor’s Office did not offer evidence that David Dragčević stayed in the house of Đorđe Radjen on March the 18th 2018, and that there was no basis for keeping Alen Kukić in custody for two months, due to deleting and editing videos. As stated, the Prosecution ignores that the instructions for that act came from the Ministry of Interior’s Inspector inspector, as well as Đorđe Rađen.

On March the 15th 2019, lawyer Ifet Feraget filed an appeal with the Bosnia and Hercegovina’s Constitutional Court for “violation of the right to life, ie failure to conduct an effective investigation, given that the previous investigation apparently aimed to cover up the abduction and aggravated murder of David Dragičević, for violation prohibition of inhumane treatment of the injured party, for violation of the right to a fair trial, for violation of the right to an effective remedy and for violation of the right to non-discrimination on any grounds ”.

After the great police repression on December the 25th 2018 and the disappearance of Davor Dragičević, protest rallies continue at the gates of the Church of Christ the Savior in Banja Luka. The police are present every day and identify anyone they consider to be a member of the Justice for David group. Police have filed over 300 misdemeanor warrants against Justice for David activists. We especially emphasize the trial of the mother of the murdered David, Suzana Radanović.

Suzana Radanović was at the trial on October the 25th 2019, due to the events of December the 25th 2018, where she is charged with obstructing the police in the performance of their official duties. Further trials have been postponed several times and the process is still ongoing.

Transparency International, together with Justice for David activists, filed a request with the Banja Luka District Court for protection of constitutionally guaranteed rights. We waited for 7 months and the verdict was passed just before the appointment of Darko Ćulum as the director of SIPA. The verdict was passed in January 2020 and the activists’ request was rejected. Misdemeanor warrants were also issued for the period from May the 21st to May the 28th 2019. There, more than 20 activists received misdemeanor warrants for some of those days and some for all those days. Over 100 misdemeanor warrants for the shout of “Justice” and all were denied. The Ministry of Interior appealed and the District Court accepted some of those appeals. In further processes, activists were released from responsibility.

On July the 7th 2020, Justice for David activists were arrested during a press conference in Krajina Square. Ozren Perduva was issued a misdemeanor order for disturbing public order and peace and for illegal gathering and a fine of 1000 KM. Other activists were invited for informative talks, and on July 8, the activists immediately filed criminal charges against a large number of police officers, primarily Miroslav Aleksić. It is currently on hold and no summonses have been received from the court. On September the 4th 2020, an appeal was filed with the Constitutional Court against legal deprivation of liberty, and there is still no response.

During 2020, Justice for David strikes back, among other things, a lawsuit was filed against the Republic of Srpska and Republic of Srpska’s Minestery of Interior for continuing discrimination. Criminal charges were filed for illegal deprivation of liberty. Criminal charges were filed against more than twenty police officers for illegal deprivation of liberty, and an appeal was filed with the Constitutional Court for the same reasons. Prosecutor Gordana Mijatović only called the members of Justice for David for the first time after more than a year as witnesses in the criminal complaint filed by Ozren Perduv in october 2019. 

In December 2020, the court rendered a judgment proving that the Ministry of Interior had discriminated continuously. The court banned police officers from discriminating against members of the Justice for David group. The verdict resulted in the return of activists to Krajina Square, where daily protest rallies are still taking place.

During a series of information presented at the plenary lecture that indicate the inadequate conduct of judicial institutions in the context of violations of basic human rights, the role of established judicial bodies in the last judicial reform in 2003 and the adequacy and applicability of these reforms in practice and the case of David Dragičević and the persecution of Justice for David activists. The establishment of an independent regulator in the field of justice was one of the most important steps in the reform of the judiciary created by the international community (OHR) following a comprehensive analysis of the functioning of the judicial system. The process began with the imposition of a law on three high judicial and prosecutorial councils, which functioned as a single body and in whose work international members also participated. The main goal was to eliminate the powerful influence of politics on the selection of judicial office holders and to establish an independent judiciary. The next step was the signing of an agreement on the transfer of jurisdiction in the field of justice from the entities to the state and the establishment of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council. How functional were the described steps? How many co-procedures have been followed? How many users of this institution have exercised their rights in general will be just some of the questions at this Zoom Session. The open question is the corrective impact of the “Dragičević” and “Memić” cases on the work of judicial institutions?

In an open debate, Davor Dragičević emphasizes that the cases of “Dragičević” and “Memić” clearly show the situation in the judiciary in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is and still is a judicial mafia, corruption and nepotism in these institutions, which is confirmed by the described events. It is up to the citizens to report corruption, while it is up to the institutions to solve the reported cases. The current state of the judiciary leads to a deprivation of faith in law and justice and violates the rule of law and fundamental human freedoms. The changes that will follow should be faster and more concrete. Davor Dragičević emphasizes that everything that the judiciary does in specific cases is torture of the “Memić” and “Dragičević” families and the entire people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Davor points out that they have been waiting for 25 months for the Constitutional Court to respond to the appeal, which only shows the state of the general judiciary in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Dejan Lučka, from the Banja Luka Center for Human Rights, emphasizes the very dark situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s judiciary. Starting with the High Judicial and Prosecutor’s Council, which is the pinnacle of criminal activity in the judiciary, there are people with a criminal past in that institution who are characterized by numerous scandals, these people should be an example for courts and prosecutors, while in reality the effect is the opposite. If the High Judicial and Prosecutor’s Council is corrupt and criminalized, it is difficult to expect lower instances such as the court and the prosecutor’s office to work in the interest of the citizens. From the point of view of his expertise and many years of experience, Lučka proposes the separation of the High Judicial and Prosecutor’s Council, into two instances, one that would deal with courts and the other that would deal with prosecutors’ offices. The trials are lasting for years, up to over twenty years. In addition to the right to a fair trial, there is also the right to a trial within a reasonable time, which is also often violated, and from that point of view it is very difficult to say that these rights are respected. In addition, there is the financial issue of the duration of court proceedings. The analysis clearly shows that judges all the time essentially want to fulfill the norm that they must legally fulfill in the context of resolving certain court proceedings. Judges take smaller cases, of a smaller nature, dragging them out for a longer period of time while large cases of organized crime and corruption remain unresolved.

Justice for David has made a huge step forward in the fight for basic human rights, primarily by not accepting responsibility, which in any case required a court decision. This is also, in addition to the launch of the first civil, long-lasting protests, one of the greatest contributions of Justice for David activists is that they gave a positive example of the legal struggle for basic human rights. Such a positive step should be a motivation for others who have the same or similar problems in the field of justice in order to expand the struggle from the point of view of civil society and advocacy of their constitutionally guaranteed rights. Lučka emphasizes the special importance of the focus of the media and the wider focus of the public on the problems that Justice for David is fighting for. Justice for David is an example and a beacon of how citizens should treat the police, the prosecution and the judiciary as a whole.

Lučka especially emphasizes the impact of Justice for David on the overall consciousness of citizens in the context of freedom of standing in the square. Through the protest gatherings of Justice for David, it is clear that it is possible to gather individuals of different opinions of different political views in a joint fight against injustice. In the context of the struggle for basic human rights, the impact of Justice for David is great, because on the concrete example of the right to peaceful assembly, free movement, freedom of expression, David’s family is denied the right to life, the right to privacy and also, finally, the right to a fair trial was brutally violated and the violation was alleged and proven in court. Justice for David has shown that human rights do not work in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Jelena Marjanović raised the question of the adequacy of the 2003 judicial reform and to what extent has its implementation contributed to the better functioning of the judiciary as a whole? Lučka emphasizes that the reform was adequate, as far as problems arose later in the implementation of reforms in judicial practice. The problems came when individuals with a criminal past and clear criminal actions came to high positions during the implementation of the reform in practice. Lučka emphasizes how important it is for the reform to continue, for the High Judicial and Prosecutor’s Council to be divided into two instances, and for the Judicial Academy for the Training of Judges to be introduced, following the example of the Republic of Serbia. Also, there is a need to evaluate and evaluate the work of judges and prosecutors and more transparent ways of appointing judges and prosecutors to the positions they hold. Lučka also emphasizes the influence of politics on the work of the judiciary, because politics, regardless of which side it comes from, always directs activities towards nationalism, great ethnic interests, thus losing the real need for a new and further judicial reform.

Sofija Grmuša emphasizes that by resolving the “Dragičević” and “Memić” cases, the judiciary is being reformed in a unique way, because in that way individuals who covered up the murders and who are part of organized crime in the judiciary will be revealed. Sofia emphasizes that the activities aimed at the prosecution will also make progress in the work of the prosecution. Sofia points out that the resolution of these processes will lead to greater progress in the work of the Prosecutor’s Office.

Davor Dragičević emphasizes that the issue does not lie so much in the legislative framework as judges and prosecutors are not experts, in those positions are incompetent individuals who have neither the knowledge nor the education to sit in those positions. When nepotism and party employment in the positions of prosecutors and judges are added to that, a very good foundation is obtained for organized crime and corruption within judicial institutions. A quality analysis of all those who work in judicial institutions in cooperation with citizens could lead to a constructive solution. Politics is largely responsible for the inadequate work of the judiciary, as the political justice mafia is involved. Unfortunately, there are no indications that this situation will soon have an epilogue. Davor emphasizes the great involvement of civil society in the context of the work of Justice for David, while the results and concrete progress are again very small.

In that context, Marko Nikolic points out an important detail after the resignation of Milan Telgeltija as the president of the High Judicial and Prosecutor’s Council, when immediately after the resignation of Milan Telgeltija he got the position of advisor in Milorad Dodik’s cabinet. Can it be concluded from that that Milan Telgeltija was the dominant political figure in the judiciary all the time?

Sofija Grmuša and Ozren Perduv emphasize that it all started with the inadequate treatment of a large number of police officers and obtaining a large number of misdemeanor warrants without prior identification. Activists did not accept responsibility for all misdemeanor charges and asked for a court decision. A concrete example of obtaining misdemeanor warrants for the exclamation “Justice!” And “Justice for David!” In the yard of the Church of Christ the Savior in Banja Luka. This is followed by the first contact with the courts in the context of Justice for David activities. To the surprise of Justice for David activists, everyone was acquitted. Ozren Perduv emphasizes that the question is what the court verdicts would be like, if there was not so much public pressure to follow the media on such a large scale. With the great involvement of the media, there was a situation of healthy pressure on the work of judges, which, among other things, resulted in an adequate quality of the court. Ozren emphasizes that the courts are a better and healthier part of the judiciary. The problem lies in the inadequate work of prosecutors, where alleged investigations into cases against human rights activists for Justice for David have been going on for over two years. Activists directed a series of activities towards the work of the prosecutor’s office in the form of letters and disclosure of information where the answers were finally received from the prosecutor’s office and the initiation of an investigation, the conclusion is that there would be no progress in the work of the prosecutor’s office. A very large number of submissions were sent to the district public prosecutor’s office, stating that if there is no progress in the work of the prosecutor’s office, activists will initiate actions against the media and the office of the disciplinary prosecutor of the High Judicial and Prosecutor’s Council and further pressure. After these actions, there is finally a response from the Prosecution and an investigation.

In addition to Dalibor Vrećo and Želimir Lepir, who are a concrete example of organized crime within the Prosecutor’s Office and the judiciary as a whole, Justice for David’s activities towards the Prosecutor’s Office reveal general inaction and generally inadequate and immoral work of a large number of prosecutors.

Sofija Grmuša and Ozren Perduv announce the reporting of a large number of prosecutors to the Office of the Disciplinary Prosecutor of the High Judicial and Prosecutor’s Council because prosecutors act or do not act, do not conduct investigations, do not do their job, and in the context of initiating the process act immorally and are a direct indicator of corruption and organized crime.

Activist and vice president of the citizens’ association “The Path of Justice” Banja Luka, Merlina Ivić, points out that 105 invitations were sent to judges of all courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to which 4 judges responded and reported that they were unable to attend the debate due to private and other obligations. Among them are Snežana Savić, Svetozar Bajić, Dragan Uvertirović and Milana Babić. This reflects the judges’ specific lack of interest in civil society activities. This lack of response and lack of contact only shows how unwilling the judges are for open dialogue and cooperation.

Justice for David directs further activities towards the Prosecutor’s Office, in addition to continuing a series of civil society actions towards inadequate work of the Prosecutor’s Office, anti-corruption campaigns, debates, conferences and constant media coverage of inadequate work of the Prosecutor’s Office linked to the cover-up of the brutal murder of David Dragičević as well as a series of inadequate actions against Justice for David activists.

At the end of the debate, Lučka emphasizes that besides the Prosecutor’s Office, the biggest evil of the system is the Police, because there are a huge number of police officers who do not have basic knowledge and skills to work in this institution, do not have adequate education and for a number of other reasons do not act adequately. It is a common and everyday occurrence that the police directly violate human rights and instead of protecting the citizens, the police work directly against the interests of the citizens. Police beat citizens for no reason, harass and abuse their own population, which they should protect. The issue is further complicated by the work of the prosecution where there is total braking and global inaction. The courts, in part, work more adequately while at the head of everything described is a policy that interferes in all judicial instances of the system and has a dominant influence in justice, which is perhaps the biggest problem in all of the above. Justice for David has shown that all the described judicial issues are present at the systemic level of all institutions.

Conclusion from the second public Zoom debate 

OPEN ABOUT JUDICIARY!

● Numerous irregularities in the prosecution’s proceedings in the case of the murder of David Dragičević have been identified.

● Serious human rights violations have been identified in connection with protests by David Dragičević’s parents and friends, as well as other citizens and Justice for David activists.

● The problem of inadequate work of prosecutors in the context of the murder of David Dragičević was pointed out, which gives perpetrators a sense of security, because the prosecution can and does not have to conduct an investigation.

● It is clearly stated that the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel has such an obligation, but it has also been noted that the  Office of the Disciplinary Counsel does not have sanctions that are adequate for prosecutors found to have obstructed or not conducted investigations.

● The work of the High Judicial and Prosecutor’s Council is problematic because it includes instances of judges and prosecutors who would need to be separated for the purpose of more adequate work of the judiciary.

● Prosecutors are individuals who are a direct part of corruption and organized crime in the judiciary.

● The court is a healthier part of the judiciary and Justice for David’s  experiences are so far positive in this direction.

● Numerous illogicalities in the work of the Banja Luka District Public Prosecutor’s Office were identified in the context of the murder of David Dragičević and in the context of the actions of the civil society Justice for David. From the above, Justice for David  is preparing activities aimed at the work of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Srpska.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *