PODGORICA, 13.06.2022 – The Council of the Supreme Court made a decision in a case formed after the request of Jovo Martinovic for protection of legality against the verdict by which that investigative journalist was sentenced to one year in prison, was accepted.
The public relations service of the Supreme Court confirm that to Vijesti, explaining that the case will be returned to the lower court at the beginning of next week.
“In the case of Jova Martinovic, the session of the panel ended on May 25. The decision has been made and is currently being processed. At the beginning of next week, it will be returned to the lower court and made public “, said the PR service of the Supreme Court.
Earlier, on May 4, a three-judge panel of the Supreme Court upheld an appeal by Martinovic and his defense attorney, Mitar Mugosa, against the Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office’s decision rejecting their motion to protect the legality of a verdict convicting an investigative journalist of drug trafficking.
The judges of the Supreme Court stated in the decision that his appeal is now considered as if a request for protection of legality had been submitted, ordering the session to be scheduled, the verdict to be revoked and the case to be returned to the first instance court for decision.
”After considering the challenged decisions, allegations of appeals and all files of this case, the panel of the Supreme Court of Montenegro from Art. 438 st. 5 of the Code of Criminal Procedure determined that the proposals of the defendant and his defense counsel should be considered as if a request for protection of legality had been submitted, ”states the explanation of the decision.
The judges of that court assessed that the reasons presented in the appeals of Martinovic and his defense counsel were justified.
On October 8, 2020, in a repeated procedure, Martinovic was convicted in the Podgorica High Court for drug trafficking, and acquitted of the original charges of creating a criminal organization.
With that decision, his sentence was reduced from 18 to 12 months. In March 2021, the Court of Appeals rejected his appeal and upheld the verdict.
The judges found, among other things, that Martinovic used his acquaintances from the journalistic profession to connect drug smugglers.
Martinovic then said that the verdict finding him guilty was in fact support for drug trafficking and organized crime, explaining that the man who was caught with 20 kilograms of drugs was forgiven in exchange for false testimony against him.
He also claimed that such a decision proved that the Montenegrin judiciary had been captured:
“The judiciary is governed by structures that are outside it. In such a judiciary, it is impossible to expect justice. It is enough that I was tried for five years by a woman who did not have the right to do so, because she decided on detention, “Martinovic said earlier.
Martinovic spent 14 and a half months in the Remand Prison and has already served his confirmed sentence.
The original verdict of the High Court, from January 2019, states that the journalist, an alleged member of the international group of jewelers “Pink Panther”, Dusko Martinovic, met people from whom marijuana can be obtained.
However, Dusko Martinovic said at the beginning of the trial that the drugs belonged only to him and that he had nothing to do with the other accused.
Following appeals by defense attorneys, the Court of Appeals quashed the conviction and remanded the case for retrial.
Jovo Martinovic repeated even then that his communication with the other accused was only for the sake of journalistic work and filming.
Martinovic and his defense counsel filed an appeal with the Supreme Court due to a significant violation of the provisions of the criminal procedure.
They proposed to the Supreme Court to accept the appeal in accordance with Art. 438 st. 8 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, act as if a request for protection of legality has been submitted.
“And then to schedule a session of the panel, and to revoke the mentioned verdicts and return the case to the first instance court for retrial and decision-making,” the decision reads.
According to Article 438 of the CPC, a defendant sentenced to unconditional imprisonment of one year or more or a sentence of juvenile imprisonment and his defense counsel may, within 30 days from the day when the defendant received the final judgment, request a written and reasoned motion to the Supreme of the State Prosecutor’s Office to file a request for protection of legality against a final judgment.