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Appointments Delay Puts Trials on Hold in Republika Srpska

20. July 2016.11:01
Cases handled by the Special Prosecutor’s Office for the fight against organized and economic crime in Republika Srpska have been postponed for months due to delays in appointing prosecutors.

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Trials for organized crime and corruption in the Bosnian Serb entity, Republika Srpska, will be put on hold for several months, after Chief Prosecutor Mahmut Svraka asked the District Court in Banja Luka to postpone all trials handled by the Special Prosecution.

Under a new law, the Special Prosecution ceased to exist on July 1, but its cases were not all finished by that date.

The law, in force since May, provides for a Special Section of the Prosecutor’s Office to be established in place of the Special Prosecutor’s Office.

The new office will be responsible for handling serious organized crimes, murders, money laundering, kidnapping and human trafficking cases.

The High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, HJPC, told BIRN that although the law stipulated that the Special Section, which was supposed to take over cases previously handled by the Special Prosecutor’s Office, would begin work on July 1, the deadline has not been met.

“This deadline could not be met, considering the law was only published in the Official Gazette of Republika Srpska on May 18,” the HPJC said.

It explained that this gave too little time, as no decision to hire new prosecutors in the Republika Srpska prosecution was made until the end of May, and the procedure for applications only opened on June 14. Candidates could not be selected by July 1 and the new section could not be fully formed.

Once formed, the new office will consist of six prosecutors and one deputy chief prosecutor. Miodrag Bajic has been appointed chief of the Special Section.

The HJPC announced that the six prosecutors would be appointed at a session scheduled for September, which is the earliest date that the delayed trials could continue.

When its mandate expired, the Special Prosecutor’s Office had three ongoing cases. Continuation of those trials will not be possible until mid-September.

Attorney Milorad Ivosevic, who represents Dako Pikula, who is charged with murder of Marko Djeric, a boxer from Trebinje, said the change of the competent prosecutor’s office might influence the course of trials.

“The state has not ensured proper conditions for a normal proceeding in a timely manner. Technical conditions, including those related to prosecutors and so on, should have been provided before the adoption of the law,” Ivosevic told BIRN.

The Special Prosecutor’s Office is also currently handling trials against five members of the Special Unit of the Republika Srpska police, charged with robbery on the Banja Luka-Gradiska highway, as well as Tihomir Gligoric, a former director of the Geodetic Directorate, who is charged with professional negligence.

The new law on prosecution also foresees the establishment of a special section for the fight against corruption, organized and grave economic crime within the District Court in Banja Luka, which will be responsible for indictments filed by prosecutors of the Special Section with the Prosecutor’s Office.

Goran Obradović

This post is also available in: Bosnian