The Special One

The key dilemma that arose during the adoption of the Law on Special Prosecutor’s Office was whether Chief State Prosecutor should propose the Chief Special Prosecutor. This dilemma was solved in favor of Chief State Prosecutors who now has the additional responsibility for the appointment, but also for the work and results of the Chief Special Prosecutor.

Three (3) persons have submitted their candidacies for the position of Chief State Prosecutor, while eleven candidates have applied for the position of Special Prosecutors. Each candidate from those who applied for the Chief Special Prosecutor’s position is representing each “branch” of the justice system (judiciary, prosecution, and advocacy). Among the candidates for the Special prosecutors 6 of them has a background carrier as State prosecutors, out of which 4 of them are incumbent Deputy Special Prosecutors, one is Deputy of High State Prosecutor in Bijelo Polje, and one is holds the position of the Deputy Basic State Prosecutor in Podgorica; 3 candidates from the judiciary: one at the position of the Judge of Commercial Court while 2 hold the positions of Judges of the Basic courts; 2 lawyers, out of which one is the Disciplinary Counsel at the Bar Association.

What is worrisome is the lack of bigger competition for these positions. It turns out that he will not choose ten of them, but he will choose only one that will not be appointed. If we had not fought for the right to candidacy for lawyers and judges, Đurđina Ivanović would have been the only candidate of the Chief State Prosecutor, and we would have only six candidates for the positions of Special Prosecutors. We can easily conclude that the atmosphere is not favorable for prominent lawyers to submit their candidacies for this important public duty.

The criteria stipulated by the Law are expertise (professional development and published scientific papers) and the ability to exercise prosecutorial duties, work experience on criminal cases, the quantity and quality of work, work motivation, communication skills, ability to make decisions and understanding the role of the state prosecutor in society. Four last sub-criteria are subjected to the opinion given by the Supreme State Prosecution, Supreme Court and the Executive Board for prosecutors, judges and lawyers, respectively. It will be interesting to observe how incumbent Special Prosecutor’s and her colleagues’ work will be assessed by her colleagues, and how will the Judge from the Appellate Court assess the work of their colleague.

We can hardly find any media stories that would set in motion the argumentative debate on candidates with the aim to find out the facts about them. Media could report on the Property disclosure reports of the candidates, their educational and professional biographies, and marital and family background to explore whether there are any kinds of relations which would endanger the candidate’s impartiality. Moreover, media could offer the overview of key points from the media archive about their work. Candidates could be interviewed about the assessment of the previous work and motivation for their candidacies as well. Furthermore, Chief State Prosecutor should be obliged to present the results of candidates’ assessments which have been conducted within the controls since his appointment on the position of the Head of the State Prosecution. If such reports exist, they should be publicly available and maybe they would represent the most valuable insight into the candidates’ assessment.

Two NGOs have problematized the past of one of candidates (judge Katnić). It is the right of NGOs to do it when it comes to the biographies of the candidates for the important public duties, as well as the state bodies have the obligation to efficiently investigate such allegations, especially when the candidates have in their jurisdiction to investigate war crimes as well. However, only one statement of the alleged witness given 19 years after the alleged event happened is weak argument to deny the candidacy. Furthermore, if his candidacy is disputable due to aforementioned reason, it is also debatable whether he could be the judge at the Appellate Court, which also has the competency over war crimes cases. Moreover, the unintended consequence of this initiative could be indirect, and in no way deserved support to his competition. That’s why it is indeed in the public interest and in the interest of the candidate himself to investigate this issue efficiently and timely.

Chief State Prosecutor and Prosecution council are responsible to the public for the decisions on the appointments. That is why the public needs the information, in-depth and argumentative explanations which would convince us in the rightness of the decision, and which would unveil the doubt about the appointed prosecutors.

It is expected from the new Special Prosecution to professionally, courageously and proactively investigate the allegations of media, NGOs and international organizations related to the corruption acts in all sectors and all levels. We need prosecutors who will investigate the acts of all major political, economic families, all domestic tycoons and foreign investors, incumbent and former Ministers and Directors. We need someone who will proactively search for corruption schemes and criminal networks in public procurement, health services, education system, real estate, energy sector… and all other important places, institutions, sectors.

It seems that working better than in years behind us will not be a challenge at all. Only one person was reported for the criminal offense of passive bribery. The report was filed by a natural person and it was dismissed. Total of two persons were reported for active bribery. Seven persons were reported for the criminal offense of illegal influence, out of which 5 charges were dismissed, while the bill of indictment was filed against two. There wasn’t a single criminal charge of money laundering. Throughout the year only one new financial investigation was launched, in the case of “Košljun”.

After the cases “Šarić” and “Kalić” where the property was seized in 2011, case “Zavala” when the indictments were issued, case “CKB” for which the indictments were issued in the beginning of 2014, the Special Prosecution has started sleeping soundly. There were many “preliminary investigations” in the Special Prosecution and even 215 cases were formed in the last year in order to check indications or ground for suspicion. Out of that number 92 were dismissed, 104 forwarded to other units of Prosecution system. In the end, only one indictment was charged against 2 persons.

Comparative experience shows that establishing Special Prosecution does not guarantee quick and significant results. The path towards better, greater and more significant results in the fight against the organized crime and corruption depends on the number of internal and external factors, but for the first visible results we need time – something we lack the most.

Stevo MUK
President of the Managing Board

Text originally published in the ”Forum” of daily Vijesti

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