HLC and YUCOM for Establishing the Facts and Ensuring Justice for the Assassination of Prime Minister

The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) and Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM) are deeply concerned over the irresponsible behavior demonstrated by the parties to the proceedings for the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjić.   By failing to sever the cases against the 13 defendants, the court and prosecutor’s office have helped to create an impression that murdering a prime minister is a crime of the same magnitude as drugs trafficking, auto theft, robbery and the like.

This serious flaw could be removed if the court accepts a motion made the deputy Special Prosecutor on 10 February this year to sever the case against those specifically accused of assassinating the prime minister so that they could be tried separately.

The fairness of the trial is furthermore brought into question by the inappropriate behavior of some of the defense attorneys, their abuse of the right to submit motions, and their evident contempt of court, whose duty is to ensure justice for both the defendants and the victim.  By walking out of the courtroom on 24 December 2003, these attorneys violated the profession’s ethical code, leaving the public with the impression that they represent the interests of that segment of society which views the murder of Zoran Djindjić as an act of patriotism.  It remains unclear why the court failed to penalize this act of contempt as bound to do by law, and thereby prevent any repetition.  Especially concerning is the fact that there has been no response from the Chamber of Attorneys, which has an obligation to uphold the reputation of the profession and take disciplinary and other measures against members who tarnish it. The HLC and YUCOM call for respect for this and all courts as a prerequisite for establishing the rule of law, a goal toward which the late prime minister aspired.  They therefore urge the professional associations of attorneys and judges, non-governmental organizations and the public in general to support the principles of rule of law and thus help to establish law and order in Serbia.