Another disturbing piece of news. Some media published that a “new commission will investigate Djindjic’s assassination”. According to them, members of that commission will be Marko Kljajevic (former judge in proceedings against the accused of assassination), Rajko Danilovic, Olgica Batic, Ante Boskovic (lawyers) and representatives of BIA, Organized crime prosecutor, Ministry of justice and Police. We also found out that the first meeting of the commission had already been held. And guess where – in the office of the deputy prime minister or, to be even more clear – in Aleksandar Vucic’s office.

Whether this commission has already been established or not is not important. We know all the elements – members, places for meetings and its tasks: to investigate many things and interrogate “potential witnesses”. And it seems that everything, i.e. finding political accomplices in Djindjic’s murder, is starting from scratch.

However, it is very clear what the whole thing is about, especially to those who at least partially followed the trial, as well as to those who care about the truth in this assassination. But, since it seems that nothing is implied here, let’s reiterate some things.

What is it – a commission that investigates and accuses

First of all, Zoran Djindjic’s assassination is not an ordinary murder, but a particular criminal act – a murder of the highest state official. An integral part of that criminal act is a political motive for removal of the representative of state authority. Zvezdan Jovanovic, convicted of shooting at Zoran Djindjic, defined it in his deposition, i.e. confession. He said very clearly: “For me, this murder is political”. The rest of the accused also spoke of that – that they committed the crime as an act of opposition to political actions of the Government and Zoran Djindjic, and that they expected, as the result of their action, the change of government and amnesty.

In the proceedings before the Special court the indictment was not expanded, primarily because of the influence of (then) executive power and lack of courage of the prosecutor and court chamber. At the end of the trial, direct perpetrators of the assassination were convicted, but not political accomplices who gave the orders. So, this should be rectified, as stated countless times by Srdja Popovic, attorney of the Djindjic family, both within and outside the courtroom. He also dedicated his closing statement to the rejection of the proposal to expand the indictment to include the key and integral part of the act committed on March 12th, 2013 – its political part.

We have been waiting too long for something to happen, there were many announcements, often by the prosecutor himself, who is the only person that should make such a statement. The prosecutor initiates investigation and issues indictments. Where is the prosecutor? Why is he silent? Does he have any professional integrity? Just a reminder, public prosecutor’s office is an independent state authority that prosecutes perpetrators of crimes. Any interference by executive or legislative power with the work of public prosecutor’s office is forbidden. The public prosecutor and deputy public prosecutor are obliged to refuse any action that threatens their independence.

Since the goal of establishing this commission, whose first meeting was held in Aleksandar Vucic’s office, is prosecution of political accomplices in Zoran Djindjic’s murder, quotations from the Law on public prosecutor’s office speak for themselves – the prosecutor mustn’t even think about talking about this with the deputy prime minister, especially not at his initiative and in his office. The same is true for the delegate Batic, as a representative of executive power, as well as for representatives of the Police, BIA and Ministry of justice. Above all, for such an action the deputy prime minister employed his position and the media, but representatives of the public prosecutor’s office didn’t disallow such action that (according to the law) interfere with the independence of public prosecutors’ office, although they were obliged to do so. In conclusion – an attempt to establish such commission is undoubtedly interference with the independence of the public prosecutor’s office in all its forbidden variations.

On top of all that we can add statements by the Minister of justice, Selakovic and Aleksandar Vucic, who promised to personally take care of this case, which were widely published by the media. Besides their intention to “personally take care” of it at the stage of indictment, I believe that they would also like to adjudicate the perpetrators instead of the court. And why wouldn’t they? If the prosecution is organized and the indictment is written in the deputy prime minister’s office, why wouldn’t the same be done with the verdict?

You (don’t) start with a blank piece of paper

Another very interesting thing is that, according to everything that has been reported, this commission will have to start from the beginning. In order to do so, they will, allegedly, use some documents from abroad, some archives will be opened, foreign secret services were also mentioned. Maybe the prosecutor needs encouragement and a reminder that there are several criminal charges in this case, filed thanks to Djindjic family and their lawyer Popovic. Those are charges against: Milorad Ulemek, Dusan Maricic, Zvezdan Jovanovic, Mica Petrakovic, Dragoslav Krsmanovic, Dragos Radic, Vojislav Kostunica and Aca Tomic for the criminal act of armed rebellion which resulted in the assassination of the prime minister; charges against Nebojsa Covic for incitement to commit a criminal act and Velimir Ilic for not reporting the criminal act of murder of the highest state official.

These criminal charges are publicly available and based on existing reasonable doubt. It is unclear why consideration of these charges is not one of the tasks of the “new commission”. Why do they look for political motives primarily in outside factors and not in the existing material? Why the press has been reporting for days that “the commission will investigate how much was paid for Zoran Djindjic’s assassination”? If we return to the motives for this assassination, i.e. that the motives were not financial, but exclusively political and that the perennial proceeding had already proven that, what is really going on? Why is the statement of the accused who said: “No financial compensation was promised to me for what I did, for murdering Djindjic. I would never do that for money. I am not a criminal” not valid for the media and for the new quasi investigative/prosecution/ruling body?

It’s a matter of choice

By participation in such a farcical proceeding, basic legal rules are broken. I don’t see a single reason why we, adult, free citizens (I guess we still are) should agree to that. It’s a matter of choice.

When we first heard that this case will be part of the agenda for Serbia’s accession, we could expect something like this to happen. That demand gives reason to plod through that job and to abuse it in the worst possible manner. Yesterday it was published that the commission was “established at the request of the European parliamentarians”, which is completely untrue. They said that that issue is important for Serbia and not that the executive power should interfere with work of prosecutors and courts.

Therefore, I ask the colleagues who were invited to be part of this commission to show that they are not only lawyers and professionals, but also citizens with courage to say no to abuse of institutions. That they are citizens with courage to say no to abuse of their names. To say no when our executive officials humiliate us like this. Because, if we can’t do that in a situation like this, then we have sank lower than we ever thought possible.

Dear Mr. Kljajevic, Mr. Boskovic and Mrs. Batic – I am inviting you, or, if you like, I am asking you not to participate in the work of this imaginary procedural authority. Only by doing that you will do the right thing, which I am sure you know. The reasons for that are professional, civic, but most of all, human. It is pointless to appeal to representatives of other institutions who are supposed to participate in it, because their interest is to abuse this process.

Dear colleagues – you are not obliged to participate in Aleksandar Vucic’s charade. On the contrary, as persons who were invited to participate in this quasi investigative body, it is your duty to rise against denial of that which still belongs to Zoran Djindjic – fair and honorable trial for what happened.

I’ve already said that some media reported that “the new commission will investigate Djindjic’s assassination”. They published it at midnight, right before the birthday of Srdja Popovic, who would react to establishment of such a commission, I believe, by saying what he said in his closing statement – “your lie has lost the honorable purpose to deceive. It has become an instrument of violence”.

Translated by Marijana Simic

Pešč, 04.03.2014.

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Sofija Mandić je rođena 1986. u Novom Sadu. Diplomirana je pravnica, posrednica u mirnom rešavanju sporova i aktivistkinja za ljudska prava. Radi u Centru za pravosudna istraživanja (CEPRIS), a prethodno je bila angažovana u Beogradskom centru za bezbednosnu politiku i Nacionalnom demokratskom institutu. Generalna je sekretarka Peščanika, sa kojim sarađuje od 2007, kao učesnica u radijskim emisijama, a zatim i kao autorka tekstova. Autorka, koautorka i urednica je brojnih analiza o vladavini prava, stanju ljudskih prava u Srbiji i njihovoj perspektivi. Neke od skorašnjih su: Izbori pred Upravnim sudom 2022 – pregled postupanja i odluka (ur. CEPRIS, 2022), Izveštaj o javnosti rada Visokog saveta sudstva i Državnog veća tužilaca (CEPRIS, 2022), Sloboda izražavanja pred sudom (ur. SĆF, 2021-2022), Rad sudova tokom epidemije zarazne bolesti COVID-19 (OEBS, 2021), Ljudska prava u Srbiji (BCLJP, 2018-2023), Naša urušena prava (FES, 2019), Uslovi za izbor i napredovanje sudija i tužilaca u pravnom obrazovanju (CEPRIS, 2018), Skorašnji Ustav Srbije – rodna perspektiva (ŽPRS, 2017). Kao predstavnica civilnog društva učestvovala je u procesu izrade komentara i mišljenja na izmene Ustava iz 2022, kao i zakona koji proizlaze iz ovih promena. Autorka je knjige „U krugu negacije, godine parlamentarnog (ne)suočavanja sa lošom prošlošću u Srbiji“ (2023).

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