Yesterday, the Higher Court of Montenegro has confirmed the sentence of the President of the Movement for Changes (PzP) Youth Network, Nikola Bajčetić. Bajčetić was sentenced to three months in prison following his arrest during anti-government demonstrations in Montenegro’s capital Podgorica last autumn.
The young opposition politician emphasized that this verdict is politically motivated, and that it will not deter him from striving for free and fair elections in his home country.
The fact that I was sentenced to prison, even though I only needed to be prosecuted for misdemeanor that I made in the morning of 17 October 2015, and that none of the uniformed criminals, who beat me up and vandalized my car, have not been prosecuted yet, nor will ever be, is scandalous and is showing that this is clearly a political verdict.
Bajčetić was arrested on 17 October 2015 in downtown Podgorica by Montenegrin riot police forces during demonstrations for free and fair elections. He was put on trial for “assaulting police officers, endangering the general public, and resisting his arrest.” His prison sentence has been strongly criticized by opposition groups as a move by the government of Prime Minister Milo Đukanović to intimidate and silence its critics.
In court, the Montenegrin riot police argued that the recordings showing police beating Bajčetić either “have been lost” or “never existed,” and the court ignored them completely as evidence. It also refused to accept as evidence further photos taken by an independent newspaper journalist, and testimonies of numerous eyewitnesses. Bajčetić has suffered serious injuries from his arrest, while no police officer got hurt.
The AECR has reported on Bajčetić’s imprisonment in April 2016, and organised two press conferences, in April and October 2015, to highlight the many injustices that PzP and other opposition groups are forced to work with in their fight to bring real democracy to Montenegro.