On a recent press conference held by CEPRIS and Beljanski Law Office, I spoke about the reasons I believe led to the annulment of Slobodan Beljanski’s PhD thesis. Those reasons relate to Beljanski’s public criticism of numerous negative social phenomena, successful opposition to the Novi Sad Faculty of Law’s monopoly to provide entry to the Bar Association for its graduates only, the fact that he acted as president of CEPRIS and the fact that he represents the Union of Hungarian students in a lawsuit for discrimination against the Novi Sad Faculty of Law. And perhaps some other things. After that I didn’t intend to speak in public again.
However, Branislav Ristivojevic, a professor at the Novi Sad Faculty of Law, recently published his view on the annulment of Slobodan Beljanski’s PhD thesis. He spoke on TV Pink, made a statement to TV Vojvodina, wrote a response to Vesna Rakic Vodinelic’s analysis… I don’t mean to deny him his right to an opinion, but such an opinion couldn’t stand even the shallowest analysis.
The public knows Branislav Ristivojevic as an ex spokesperson of DSS, but he now acts as a spokesperson of the Novi Sad Faculty of Law. We should stress that Ristivojevic is head of the department of criminal law, which filed an initiative “to review the legality” of Beljanski’s dissertation. Shortly after that, the dean formed a commission “to establish the facts and validity of legal procedure” of Beljanski’s doctorate. The head of that commission, funnily enough, was Branislav Ristivojevic himself. In his statement to TV Vojvodina, Ristivojevic said that his department has recently learned that Slobodan Beljanski presents himself as the holder of a PhD and, in his statement to TV Pink, that he found out about this when Slobodan Beljanski “sued” the faculty.
In one of those video statements, I thought I saw the Commentary on the Criminal Code, published by Sluzbeni glasnik, on Ristivojevic’s desk. The authors of that Commentary are Dr. Majic, Dr. Ilic, Dr. Beljanski, and Dr. Tresnjev. Perhaps Ristivojevic has forgotten that Dr. Slobodan Beljanski was the first president of the Anti-Corruption Council. Dr. Slobodan Beljanski was also the president of the National Board for mediation of conflicts of interest and a member of the Board of the Anti-Corruption Agency. Dr. Beljanski was also the president of the Bar Association of Vojvodina for nine years. This Association is based in Novi Sad, where Ristivojevic also lives. Apparently, Ristivojevic didn’t know any of this although he’s actively involved in politics: he was an MP of the National Assembly, member of the Parliamentary board for safety and defense, as well as the president of DSS’s regional board. He was surprised when he recently saw a law suit against the faculty, which Beljanski had signed as a PhD, which motivated him to explore the legality of the procedure which led to the successful defense of the PhD dissertation of Slobodan Beljanski, a person previously unknown to him. And, miraculously, Ristivojevic couldn’t find an application for that thesis, even though the Academic council formed a Commission for the dissertation defense, even though that Commission constituted of the most prominent criminal law professors, even though the Dean scheduled the defense and the Commission decided that Beljanski has successfully defended his dissertation. It’s not like Ristivojevic was investigating other PhDs. It was pure coincidence that he started with Beljanski.
I don’t believe these claims by Ristivojevic. His claim that Slobodan Beljanski has sued the Faculty of Law is also false. The truth is that Dr. Slobodan Beljanski, as a lawyer, represents “The Union of Hungarian students of Vojvodina” in a law suit against the faculty for discrimination. Not understanding the limits of provision of legal help by a lawyer, Ristivojevic took this case personally and, apparently, he’s not the only one whose personal emotions and vengeful intentions got mixed up in this case.
You don’t have to be a lawyer to determine that the alleged problems pointed out by Ristivojevic – the lack of magisterial thesis (which wasn’t necessary at the time), etc. – have nothing to do with the decision of the Novi Sad Faculty of Law to abolish the doctorate. The doctorate was abolished only because of the lack of “party’s request”, which, I guess, is supposed to mean that the Faculty is now protecting Slobodan Beljanski by canceling his doctorate, since he, according to that logic, didn’t even want to get his PhD.
It is clear that, due to the lack of legal arguments, Ristivojevic is using the well-established political practice of attacking his opponent by all means possible, including insinuations, half-truths, and, ultimately, lies. Ristivojevic failed to read a book called “International legal standards” by Dr. Slobodan Beljanski, published by Belgrade human rights center in 2001. I guess he also didn’t know that Dr. Slobodan Beljanski and Dr. Momcilo Grubac were co-authors of a textbook in criminal procedural law which was used at Novi Sad’s Faculty of Law for years and that Dr. Slobodan Beljanski used to hold lectures in legal ethics at Novi Sad’s Faculty of Law. Apparently, he learned about Dr. Slobodan Beljanski only when the faculty received the lawsuit. The discrimination didn’t upset him. It was the ominous letters “Dr.” before the lawyer’s name.
And speaking of ethics, I wonder why the Ethics Committees of the Faculty and the University are still silent. We knew that the students often pretend to know something they don’t. And now we see that the professors are pretending to not know something they do. That’s what happens when politicians find themselves in science and fake scientists in politics. After this case of annulment of the doctorate due to “the lack of party’s request” who got his PhD against his will and wrote Dr. before his name because the faculty made him, is it possible for students of the Faculty of Law to comprehend the point of their studies and follow the light of the rule of law? Are they being taught to misuse and manipulate the law or to be honorable and independent judges, good lawyers, prosecutors and fair professors? Professor Vesna Rakic Vodinelic, judge Dr. Miodrag Majic, former president of the Supreme court of Serbia judge Vida Petrovic Skero, professor Marijana Pajvancic, professor Lino Veljak, professor Bogoljub Milosavljevic and many others are trying to light that way. Not as friends of Slobodan Beljanski, but as friends of the law and science.
Novi Sad, 17.11.2016.
member of the Managing Board of Serbian Bar Association,
member of CEPRIS
son of Dr. Slobodan Beljanski
Translated by Marijana Simic