Montenegro PM Faces Grilling for Attacking Prosecutors

The opposition wants to question Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic over a leaked security report which accused the Special Prosecution Office for organized crime of acting too independently.

Parliament’s Security and Defence Committee on Friday postponed a planned hearing of top security and prosecution officials, including Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, due to discuss the work of the Special Prosecutor’s Office for fighting corruption and organized crime.

Milo Đukanović

The cited reasons for the delay were “the commitments” of the officials involved. An exact date for the re-scheduled hearing has yet to be given.
Besides Djukanovic, in his capacity as chair of the National Security Council, MPs were expected to grill Deputy Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, who is the coordinator of all security services in the country, the Supreme State Prosecutor, Ivica Stankovic, and the Chief Special Prosecutor, Milivoje Katnic.

The opposition sought the hearing after a leaked confidential report by the Security Council accused the Special Prosecutor’s office of not doing its job.
The document, marked “top secret” and adopted by the Council on April 14, criticised the work of Stankovic and Katnic, and argued that they acted as “an independent authority” and not as part of the judicial system.
Katnic and Stankovic on Thursday said they had not yet seen the report.
One question is whether Djukanovic will attend the hearing after already refusing to address parliament for the so-called “Prime Minister’s Hour”, which was scheduled this week.
Deputies of his ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, have lately not attended sessions of parliamentary bodies convened by the opposition.
Conflict between the ruling elites and the Special Prosecution escalated after the arrest of several senior police officers in February, suspected of removing crucial evidence in a high-profile corruption case involving the former president of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Markovic.
The Police Directorate, whose management is considered close to Djukanovic’s party, has complained of a “constant atmosphere of distrust” created by the prosecution. It has also urged the government protect the police from the Special Prosecution.
Cooperation between the police and the Special Prosecution for Organized Crime and Corruption has been problematic in recent years, especially after the appointment of Chief Special Prosecutor Katnic last June.
Katnic’s election by parliament was supported by most opposition parties and welcomed by the EU, the US, the Council of Europe and foreign embassies in Podgorica.

It came after the Montenegrin prosecution and police had been accused for years of unprofessional work and of producing no results in the fight against political corruption.
Katnic, a former Court of Appeal judge and military judge in the early 1990s, has publicly accused the police and their director, Slavko Stojanovic, of obstructing his work.
In February, he said he was the victim of a “special war run by people who want to obstruct” his office’s investigations.
On Wednesday, the opposition urged both Stankovic and Katnic to reveal who was conducting the “special war” against them. Katnic answered that “certain structures” were trying to reduce the authority of the prosecution but did not reveal any names.
He said the Special Prosecution was investigating several police officers on suspicion of attempting to disrupt its work.

Balkan Insight
29 July 2016