Appellate Court adopts prosecution request in Curuvija trial

The Appellate Court has ruled to adopt an appeal filed by the prosecutor in the trial for the murder of journalist and publisher Slavko Curuvija.

Source: B92, Insajder
The entrance to the Special Court in Belgrade (Tanjug, file, illustration purposes)
The entrance to the Special Court in Belgrade (Tanjug, file, illustration purposes)

The decision establishes that databases from the (telephone) base stations had been obtained in a lawful manner and can be used as evidence.

Mirjana Piljic, a spokeswoman of the Appellate Court, told this on Tuesday to Insajder.

This means that the first-instance court, which in April excluded this evidence at the request of the defense, will have to take them into account when establishing the facts and rendering the verdict.

The data is question was presented by the prosecution as evidence that the accused had been at the site of the murder of Curuvija, who was gunned down in Belgrade in 1999.

The president of the Commission for Investigations of the Murders of Journalists, Veran Matic, earlier told the weekly NIN in an interview that with their decisions, the Trial Chamber had effectively ruled to acquit the accused - former members of Serbia's state security agency (RDB).

Despite all the unusual facts and events that accompany the trial, the Judges' Association of Serbia and the Belgrade Bar Association have criticized Matic's statements.

Reacting to this criticism on Tuesday, the Commission issued a statement, signed by Matic, to point out that this body - set up by the government - has always been supportive of the independence of the court, that it always respected the presumption of innocence and never violated the presumption of innocence of any of the defendants.

"Trials are public precisely in order to enable for the democratic control of the public. Judicial power is independent and there is no control over it other than the control of the public. This is the reason why the public, not only can, but also has the duty to monitor what the court is doing, to create an opinion on this and to publicly state this opinion," the statement said, and added:

"Neither the Judges' Association of Serbia nor the Belgrade Bar Association have any deed on having an opinion on the work of the judiciary. They are interested parties who do not have the right to silence the public or deny it the right to an opinion and its free expression."

"We are fully committed to respecting the right to a fair trial, but the right to a fair trial can not coexist with impunity for the murders of journalists. They mutually exclude each other," the statement said.

"The president of the Commission presented undisputed facts and a legitimate opinion about them. It's no surprise that the Judges' Association of Serbia and the Bar Association of Belgrade together expressed their protest, because without the public there is no control over their work, which has been rated very low by international institutions. Once again, we invite the public to pay full attention to the work of judges and lawyers, and make its own conclusions," the Commission said, and concluded:

"We express our satisfaction with the decision of the Appellate Court, which for the second time ruled in favor of the prosecution's appeal, which is confirmed that the Commission was right in commenting on the decisions of the Trial Chamber. Once again, it has been shown how important it is to hear well-supported, critical thinking publicly."


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