ASSOCIATE WITNESS: New obstructions by the state prosecutor’s office in the investigation of the murder of Dusko Jovanovic

This investigation is part of the JFJ Investigative Grant Programme and has been originally published by the crime and corruption reporting network LUPA.

The State Prosecutor’s Office has not decided for more than five months whether Ljubo Bigovic, from the town of Bar in Montenegro, will be granted the status of an associate witness in the murder of the daily’s editor-in-chief list “Day” of Dusko Jovanovic.

Bigovic is in prison in Spuž, where he is serving a 30-year prison sentence for the August 30, 2005 murder of police official Slavoljub Scekic. He is the wedding godfather of Damir Mandic, the only one convicted for the murder of Dusko Jovanovic.

According to the data obtained by the Crime and corruption reporting network – LUPA, more than five months ago, the Deputy Prime Minister of the current Government and the coordinator of the Montenegrin security services, Dritan Abazovic, spoke with Bigovic personally. After that conversation, Abazovic informed the Higher State Prosecutor’s Office (VDT) about that conversation, head by State Prosecutor Lepa Medenica.

Bigovic precisely described the details of the preparation and execution of Jovanovic’s murder, and pointed out specific names. He pointed out that his life was seriously endangered and asked for strong guarantees for his own and his family’s safety. All this information has been in the prosecutor’s office for months, which has not yet made a decision.

Following this information, the journalists of the LUPA network contacted Lepa Medenica, which shifted the responsibility from itself.

“The Higher State Prosecutor’s Office in Podgorica is not competent to act in cases of organized crime and corruption, and therefore does not have the possibility to grant the status of associate witness in cases of organized crime and corruption to any person, because that is the exclusive competence of the Special State Prosecutor’s Office”, Lepa Medenica replied. Abazovic did not want to comment on the case.

Lepa Medenica           

This, it remained unclear whether any of the prosecutors demanded that Bigovic’s security be strengthened in the Spuž prison, given that his life was in danger. The Special State Prosecutor’s Office is headed by the controversial Chief Special Prosecutor Milivoje Katnic. According to data from security circles, Katnic is the most undesirable person for such a serious case, due to his previous professional activities.

Earlier, the inadequate actions of the now-former leaders of the prosecution had already influenced the murder of the editor-in-chief of the “Dan” newspaper not to be fully clarified.

Former chief of the Podgorica police station, Milan Vujanovic, described in detail in front of the camera how former Supreme State Prosecutor Vesna Medenica obstructed the investigation. Neither Vujanovic nor Vesna Medenica has been questioned in the state prosecutor’s office for more than a month and a half regarding the allegations revealed in the investigative article and the documentary “Secrets of Crimes – Murder of Dusko Jovanovic”, which was published at the end of August this year. This is a new clear indication that the prosecution and Lepa Medenica do not want those responsible for the omissions in the investigation to be prosecuted, but also that the investigation does not continue in the direction of revealing all the facts.

For days, LUPA has not been able to get an answer from the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office on whether they even plan to interrogate the former head of that state institution and the former police chief, regarding the allegations. On the other hand, investigative journalists came across data indicating that the income of Vesna Medenica’s family increased significantly shortly after the prosecution, which she headed, led the investigation into Jovanovic’s murder in a direction that did not shed light on the crime and prosecute all those responsible.

Dusko Jovanovic was killed around midnight on May 27, 2004, in front of the “Dan” editorial office in Podgorica. A few days later, on June 5, 2004, Podgorica police officers made an official note of the interrogation of Damir Mandic, the only person currently convicted of involvement in the crime. It is written in it how Mandic described in detail the role in that crime of Vuk Vulevic from the city of Berane, who was never prosecuted. Vulevic has been connected with the former State Security Service (SDB) for years, and today with the National Security Agency (ANB).

Describing the police interrogation on June 5, 2004, Vujanovic said that they had a detained person in front of them who was suspected of participating in the criminal act.

“He was taken into custody around midnight. By law, we had the opportunity to take an adequate statement, which would be evidence in criminal proceedings, and the condition for that is that the statement be taken by the state prosecutor, a police official, the suspect’s lawyer and the suspect. it did not happen because the competent prosecutors came to do it 13 hours after our call to come, or in fact, after the arrest “, said Vujanovic in front of the cameras of the investigative portal LUPA.

He pointed out that they first had a meeting with the then Supreme State Prosecutor, who later became the President of the Supreme Court of Montenegro.

“First, we had a meeting with Vesna Medenica, the Supreme State Prosecutor, and her associates in the office of Mico Orlandic (former Deputy Minister of the Interior) and we presented everything we have, down to the smallest detail. I informed them all and of course I asked her then, knowing what a difficult task awaited us, that the competent prosecutor in the case be someone who is a little more experienced and stronger in communication with the police. And who can better understand what problems can be and how powerful are those criminal groups against which we should act. Of course, I didn’t get it. The sole culprit for the poor results in the investigation is the Supreme State Prosecutor, “Vujanovic said.

LUPA came to the information that Medenica was elected president of the Prosecutorial Council in the same month when the official note on the police interrogation of Mandic was made, and she took over that position on June 29, 2004. Until then, as the supreme state prosecutor, she received a salary of 460 euros, and then she started receiving another 100 euros a month for the position of the head of the Prosecutorial Council. In her property status report filed in 2005, for the previous year, Medenica wrote that her now-deceased husband Milorad Medenica had a salary of 400 euros. Her children – son Milos and daughter Marija Medenica – had no income. Then, in the first subsequent property report of the former head of the prosecution, huge changes can be seen. Suddenly, Milorad Medenica’s salary increased from 400 euros to 1,200 euros, or 200 percent. He is buying a Grand Cheroke jeep with a 25,000-euro loan. Vesna Medenica reports that she received a loan of 20,000 euros in June 2005 and reports the purchase of a seven-year-old Alfa Romeo 156.

During 2007, while she was still the Supreme State Prosecutor, she reported as many as three changes in her financial situation to the former Commission for the Prevention of Conflicts of Interest (the body for reporting the property of public officials). In the first property report that year, her salary increased from 480 euros to 991.5 euros, while her 20-year-old son, who was not working anywhere at the time, managed to buy a plot of land of a total of 160 square meters in Krasici, near Tivat.

Another change in assets was recorded in 2007, when Medenica reported that a new luxury car, the Audi Q7, had been bought in her son’s name, costing between 50,000 and 75,000 euros in Europe at the time – depending on luxury levels.

The Audi Q7 family vehicle was purchased at the Rokšped car center, and the car was paid for with credit funds under the Direct Loan Agreement with the First Bank of Montenegro, dated 15 June 2007, and with funds from the sale of already existing family vehicles, which are reported in the annual income statement. These are the jeep of the brand “Gran Cheroke” and the passenger vehicle “Alfa Romeo 156”.

The “Audi Q7” vehicle was bought in the name of Vesna’s son Milos, and it was written in the report of the change in property status, which was recorded in 2007 by the then Commission for the Prevention of Conflicts of Interest.

Approved loan

The single largest shareholder of the First Bank of Montenegro, which was called Nikšićka bank before 2007, has been Aco Đukanovic since 2005, the brother of today’s President Milo Đukanovic. Both Milo and Aco Đukanovic were mentioned in the Report of the Italian Directorate for Antimafia (DIA), related to cigarette smuggling on the route Montenegro – Italy.

Precisely as one of the main motives for Jovanović’s murder is the writing of “Dan” about the cigarette smuggling affair between Montenegro and Italy. In the spring of 2001, the Zagreb weekly “Nacional” published a series of articles about cigarette smuggling through Montenegro and a powerful state-mafia organization, accusing Milo Đukanovic and Stanko-Cane Subotic of being its leaders. The articles of “Nacional” about the tobacco mafia were published at the same time by the daily “Dan”. The affair caused a real political earthquake in Montenegro, while Subotic and Djukanovic denied those accusations.

The wave of smuggled cigarettes mostly flooded Italy, whose authorities launched an investigation in 1999, which included Montenegrin citizens from the very top of politics and tycoons. Apart from Djukanovic and Subotic, and well-known Montenegrin businessmen Branslav-Brano MicunovicVeselin Barovic and Branko Vujosevic, the list of defendants included former Montenegrin diplomat Dusanka Jeknic and former Minister Miroslav Ivanisevic. In the procedure that lasted for almost two decades against some of the defendants, the prosecution dropped the charges, while the others were acquitted by a court decision.

“Associate in practice” and godfathership

Vesna Medenica’s connection with the persons mentioned in the Italian indictment was not only at the level of loans, through which she financed the purchase of luxury cars. Her biography can be found on the official website of the University of Donja Gorica (UDG), which is owned by Univerzitats – a company in which Milo Djukanovic owns 25 per cent. Medenica is run as an “associate in practice” of that university.

Medenica “associate from practice” at Djukanovic University

Her name was also mentioned in the media in September 2013, when her son Milos Medenica married Tijana Buric, a cousin of the majority owner of the Lottery of Montenegro, Sava Grbovic, a friend of the Niksic businessman Branislav Brano Micunovic. It was Tijana Buric who invited her longtime friend Andrea Micunovic,Branislav Micunovic’s daughter, to be her godfather. In October last year, businessman Zoran Becirovic stated in court that he was friends with the now-former Supreme State Prosecutor and President of the Supreme Court Medenica, and that he personally talked to her about buying land in Kolašin. The land was investigated by the Network for Affirmation of the Non-Governmental Sector (MANS), when they published in September 2019 that Medenica, for four years, hid information from the competent authorities about the business with Becirovic – a close friend of the Montenegrin president, from whom she earned income close to 139 thousand euros. In the data of the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (ASK), the Real Estate Administration and the Central Register of Business Entities (CRPS), it can be seen that the family of Vesna Medenica today owns property worth millions.