Montenegro Must Tackle War Crimes, Chief Prosecutor Says


12 May 15
Montenegro Must Tackle War Crimes, Chief Prosecutor Says

The new supreme state prosecutor Ivica Stankovic said Montenegro has not done enough to prosecute war crimes because courts have only delivered three final judgments so far.

Dusica Tomovic

Supreme state prosecutor Ivica Stankovic.

Stankovic on Monday criticised the performance of Montenegro’s prosecution in war crimes cases and said he was not satisfied with the inadequate number of convictions.

So far a total of six war crimes cases arising from the conflicts in the 1990s have been prosecuted in the country’s courts. Only three of them have ended in final judgments and a total of 10 people have been convicted.

At a meeting with the US ambassador to Podgorica, Margaret Ann Uyehara, Stankovic said he expected better results because war crimes are not subject to a statute of limitations.

Some local watchdog have alleged that political pressures caused the failure of two cases in which top police officials were accused of war crimes.

In October 2011, five former Yugoslav Army reservists and two former Montenegrin policemen charged with crimes against humanity against Bosniaks and Muslims in the Bukovica area, near the town of Pljevlja, were acquitted due to lack of evidence.

Nine former police officials were also acquitted of the deportation of at least 66 Bosniak refugees who entered Montenegro in April and May 1992 to seek protection from Bosnian Serb forces. But they were instead arrested and handed over to the Bosnian Serb Army; the fate of over 35 of them remains unknown.

After he was elected as chief prosecutor in late 2014, Stankovic promised that his office will not be influenced by “daily politics, prejudices and pressures”.

The latest EU progress report on Montenegro raised series concerns about the country’s attempts to prosecute war crimes, saying that “no serious efforts to tackle impunity have been demonstrated”.

“Montenegro needs to step up its efforts to fight impunity for war crimes, and effectively investigate, prosecute, try and punish war crimes in line with international standards. All outstanding allegations of war crimes need to be duly followed up. Montenegro needs to ensure that victims of war crimes have access to justice and reparations,” the report said.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)