Similar oversights in the investigations regarding the murders of Dada Vujasinović and Slavko Ćuruvija

Interview: Zagorka Dolovac, the Republic Public Prosecutor, speaks to the newspaper "Danas” on current cases.

Author: Ivana Pejčić

Belgrade – I expect this week to receive criminal charges filed by the police, which we will then treat as a priority. There are serious indications that in the case of Kolubara there have been great abuses and that there are elements that constitute a criminal offence, Zagorka Dolovac, the Republic Public Prosecutor states for Danas in answering the question if any progress can be expected regarding the investigation into the abuses at the Mining Basin "Kolubara” which was opened in 2008. She adds that this conclusion is supported by the data that has been collected so far during the preliminary investigation.

- May I remind you that the Prosecutor’s Office has requested from the police on several occasions since 2008 to obtain the necessary information and notices for the purpose of collecting the evidence. I am confident that all of those who are proven to be involved in the embezzlement at Kolubara will be processed and criminally prosecuted, Dolovac says.

Are there any indications that the State Security Service has been involved in the murder of the journalist of Duga magazine, Radislava Dada Vujasinović? Are there any indications that the state is responsible for her murder? Do you expect the investigation to be concluded any time soon?

- Let me be very precise. We have reopened the investigation and the Prosecutor’s Office has reclassified this suicide as murder. All of the expert witnesses in this case have been interviewed. New witnesses are currently being questioned as well as the ones that have already been questioned. All of them should help in discovering the circumstances surrounding the murder of the journalist and I expect some progress to be made in this case. It is not easy to discuss whether there are any indications that former State Security Service was involved, given my position. However, the manner in which the crime scene investigation was conducted in the case of the murder of Ćuruvija suggests that there are similarities in the oversights which have been made in the cases of Dada’s and Ćuruvija’s murders. I must stress that it is difficult to produce evidence of good quality after 16 years.

Is the indictment against the folk singer Svetlana Ceca Ražnatović ever going to be issued and when? Why is the investigation taking so long? Have there been any political pressures in this case?

- The investigation in this case has been expanded to include former high-ranking officials of FC Obilić, Jovan Dimitrijević and Dragiša Binić. They have been questioned during the investigative proceeding as witnesses but after certain evidence was obtained regarding the business transactions of the FC Obilić, they have become suspects. The investigation had to be expanded in order to complete and round off the proceedings against Svetlana Ražnatović, because this refers to the same event. With regard to this expansion, Dimitrijević and Binić have been questioned before the investigating judge. What remains is to question some other witnesses and to confront Svetlana Ražnatović with the other defendants since their statements differ. As soon as the investigating concludes the investigation the Prosecutor’s Office will render its decision in this case quickly. The decision of the Prosecutor’s Office will be based solely on the law and evidence and no type of pressure will influence the work of the Prosecutor’s Office, nor will it weaken my resolve. Perhaps it seems like I am exposed to pressures but those who nominated me for this position know that I am not ready to compromise on anything.

You have stated that there are elements that constitute a criminal offence in the case of privatisation of the Port of Belgrade. Can we expect an investigation to be opened and have you received any information from the police regarding this privatisation?

- We are still waiting on the information from the police which we requested last year. I assure you that the Prosecutor’s Office is determined to examine this whole case thoroughly since there are grounds for suspicion that in this particular case a criminal offence has been committed.

You have recently ordered a review of the case of the death of the investigating judge Nebojsa Simeunović. Are there any indications that it was a murder and how it was committed?

- The competent prosecutor has been working hard on this case and I expect that we will have some tangible results soon. The public should be aware that at a time when the judge died, there were many oversights in the investigative actions. The fact is that the work in this case was obstructed by the remnants of the previous regime and they stopped the resolution of the case in various ways.

Can we expect the case of the two killed guardsmen in Topčider ever to be finally resolved?

- Since there have been extremely great oversights during the crime scene investigation, in terms of preserving material evidence, we are doing everything in our power to discover the perpetrators. The deaths of the guardsmen in Topčider have been qualified as murder by the Prosecutor’s Office and investigative actions are being undertaken which aim at discovering the perpetrators of these murders.

According to what principles is the permanent council of the State Prosecutorial Council going to be elected and when are the cases of prosecutors and deputy prosecutors who have not been elected going to be put on the agenda of the SPC? How many prosecutors do you expect to be reinstated?

- Election activities for the permanent composition of the SPC have already begun and I expect that it will have been formed by March so that the review procedure regarding the decisions passed in December could start as early as in April. Each prosecutor or deputy prosecutor is going to be summoned before the commission of the SPC and the whole procedure is going to be open and transparent. Our goal is to provide a prosecutor’s office run according to European standards and therefore, all of the undertaken steps are being undertaken in co-operation with the European Commission and other relevant international institutions. Certainly, as has been done in this procedure so far, associations of experts, which are our partners, will be consulted in order to ensure the review of the decisions is conducted as transparently and as well as possible. One of the important points in the election procedure which has been introduced in the last amendments to the set of judicial laws is the possibility which allows, in addition to the collegium of the prosecutor’s office, 15 prosecutors and deputy prosecutors to nominate the candidates for the permanent composition.

I cannot speculate, but, personally, I do not expect a large number of them to be reinstated.

Are the unelected prosecutors going to receive individual justifications by the SPC after opening their cases this time if they are not elected?

- Of course. The whole reviewing procedure is going to be transparent and the unelected candidates are going to be summoned to an interview before the permanent composition of the SPC, to which the media will have access. So it will be clearly shown during such a procedure what were the reasons during the first session of the SPC when it was decided on the election of the prosecutors and deputy prosecutors but the other side will be able to present their arguments as well.

Date: 07.02.2011.

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