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Montenegro Hunts Robbers Who Tunneled Into Court Stores

Montenegro’s Bureau for Security Sector Coordination on Wednesday said police have identified six persons involved in digging a tunnel into the Higher Court’s storage rooms in the capital, Podgorica, where trial evidence is stored.

On September 12 the head of the Higher Court, Boris Savic, reported that unknown persons dug a tunnel into the court’s storage rooms where material evidence seized by the police during investigations is kept – reportedly including large amounts of drugs, weapons and documents.

Under the country’s criminal law, seized evidence is kept by the court until verdicts become final and then should be destroyed.

“These are activities with a high level of organisation and professionalism, which involve the participation of a large number of people of different profiles. During the investigation, police found several traces, which will be the subject of further processing and expertise. Intensive activities are currently being undertaken to identify six persons who are reasonably suspected of having participated in this event,” the Bureau said in a press release.

On Tuesday, police launched an investigation into possible evidence theft, noting that the tunnel was dug from an apartment in a building across from the court. On Wednesdy, the daily Vijesti reported that an investigation showed several guns were stolen from the store room.

On Wednesday, outgoing Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic said he suspected collusion from within with court. “This could not have been done without helpers within the Higher Court,” Abazovic told the media.

The court responded that Abazovic was accusing it without any evidence, adding that the Police Directorate was in charge of court security.

Media reported that the tunnel was dug for more than 45 days, from the nearby apartment. Reportedly the apartment, located in the basement of the building, was rented since July, while the tunnel was dug during the summer vacation in the court administration.

The Capital Projects Administration started renovation of the Higher Court building facade on July 5. Besides the Higher Court, the Appeal Court and Supreme Court operate in the same building.

Political parties and civic activists warned that the robbery had additionally undermined confidence in the country’s judiciary.

“The protection of the country’s integrity should be demonstrated through the quick and responsible reaction of the institutions and by finding the perpetrators. [This] could restore trust among citizens,” Ana Nenezic, from the NGO CEMI, told the public broadcaster.

Since February, the Higher Court has begun trials of several high-ranking state officials including the former head of the Supreme Court, Vesna Medenica, and the head of the Commercial Court, Blazo Jovanic.

Former high-ranking police officer Petar Lazovic and the alleged head of the “Kavac” drug gang, Slobodan Kascelan, along with members of his gang, are also being tried by the Higher Court.

Source : Balkaninsight