Franz Kafka, “The Trial”
The duty of the police, prosecutors and the courts is to protect citizens – protect them from crime, but also from false and malicious accusations. How is it possible for a man to spend 9 months in detention without a single shred of evidence against him? If the system doesn’t work properly then everything is possible.
The case of Tomislav Đorđević demonstrates the total lack of independence of the police and the prosecutor’s office, and raises serious concerns about political influence over the judiciary. In cases where the State is an interested party, the officially proclaimed autonomy and independence of these institutions exist only on paper.
In response to the lawsuits of Tomislav Đorđević against a state institution for the protection of his property rights, a criminal proceeding is staged. Member of Parliament Boško Ristić is involved in the creating these accusations. At the time of the arrest, he was a prominent member of the Democratic Party, Chairman of the Parliamentary Justice and Administration Committee and ex-officio member of the High Judicial Council and the State Prosecutorial Council, the two councils responsible for the reform of the Serbian justice system and the reelection of judges and prosecutors.
On 6 August 2010. Tomislav Đorđević was arrested together with the former management of company Ribarsko gazdinstvo on allegations of siphoning funds from this company. The arrest was accompanied by an orchestrated media campaign. Police Director Milorad Veljović declared the suspects guilty on the national news before they were even questioned by the police. 6 people spent a total of 27 months in pre-trial detention. Tomislav Đorđević was detained for 9 months. Although the indictment was filed on 3 February 2011, the trial has not yet begun.
On 13 May 2011, the day after his release from detention by decision of the Appellate Court, Tomislav Đorđević received summons from the High Court in Belgrade to appear before investigative judge in connection with new allegations – related to Hotel Prag in Belgrade.
Although in both cases it is obvious that the charges are contrived, police and prosecutor initiated criminal proceedings using Article 359 Criminal Code – abuse of office. In Serbia this offence is also known as the “rubberband” or “wild card” criminal offense, for its vague wording which can be stretched to accommodate almost any action as a criminal offence.
After receiving no answer from any of the competent Serbian authorities, Tomislav Đorđević and his family notified the institutions of the European Union and the Council of Europe of their situation.
On 29 June 2011 the European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia, Jelko Kacin, addressed a written question to the European Commission about legal security for investors in Serbia and the misuse of Article 359, citing the case of Tomislav Đorđević.
On 29 March 2012 the European Parliament adopted a resolution on Serbia, which in point 18 calls for changes to Article 359 of the Criminal Code and the immediate cessation of unfounded proceedings against the owners and management of private enterprises.
Tomislav Đorđević pressed charges against those responsible for the creation of false allegations against him (police inspector Milosav Stojanović, the custodian of state capital, Nebojša Mandić, MP Boško Ristić and others). The charges were dismissed by the prosecutor’s office, although they are based on cogent evidence.
At the same time, the prosecutor’s office refused to give Tomislav Đorđević an explanation of the severe irregularities in the criminal proceedings against him.
Following changes of the Serbian Criminal Code, the proceedings against Tomislav Đorđević were simply reclassified under the new article 234 – “abuse of position by responsible person”, without any explanation or analysis.
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