Montenegro Set Finally to Elect Supreme Prosecutor


News
07 Oct 14

Montenegro Set Finally to Elect Supreme Prosecutor

After long delays and failed votes, Montenegro’s parliament on Tuesday was on course to elect a Supreme State Prosecutor – tasked with the challenging brief of tackling organised crime, high-level corruption and war crimes.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN

Podgorica

After an 18-month delay and four failed votes in parliament, Montenegrin MPs looked set on Tuesday to finally elect a new Supreme State Prosecutor.

Supreme Court Judge Ivica Stankovic was tipped to take over as head of the state prosecution office, tasked with cracking down on organized crime and corruption – on which the European Union wishes to see much more progress.

Stankovic was expected to win the support of MPs of the the governing coalition of Milo Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS and the Social Democrats, SDP.

However, his election is not possible without the votes also of the opposition Socialist People’s Party. This is because the election of the state prosecutor requires a three-fifths majority in parliament, which means at least 49 of the 81 MPs.

After passing a parliamentary hearing before the Political Committee last week, Stankovic promised that the prosecution office would not be influenced by “daily politics, prejudices and pressures.

“I can make a significant contribution to the prosecution, strengthening its impartiality and independence,” he added.

Previously, the opposition refused to support candidates who had the support of both the Prosecutorial Council and the ruling parties.

The main opposition Democratic Front had earlier said it would not support the new candidate, calling the proposed vote “political staged”.

But a consensus between the ruling coalition and part of the opposition on Stankovic’s election surprisingly emerged a day before the EU was due to release its new Progress Report on Montenegro, the most important annual review of the achievements of the country on its path toward EU membership.

Citing unofficial sources, the Montenegrin media reported on Monday that the EU report would focus its criticism mainly on the state of the judiciary, urging greater involvement on the part of the government in the fight against organized crime and corruption.

The Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office has been widely criticized by opposition parties and civil society groups for years as a “weak link” in the judicial system, because it failed to bring any serious investigations into high-level corruption to a conclusion.

Critics said Acting State Prosecutor Veselin Vuckovic was not trying hard enough, as he knew he was only in the post for a temporary period, pending the election of a permanent prosecutor.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)