A Montenegrin youth opposition politician has been sentenced to three months in prison on Monday following his arrest during anti-government demonstrations in the capital last autumn. On trial for ‘assaulting police officers, endangering the general public, and resisting his arrest’, his prison sentence has been strongly criticised by opposition groups as a move by the government of Prime Minister Milo Đukanović to intimidate and silence its critics.
Nikola Bajčetić was arrested on October 17, 2015 in downtown Podgorica by Montenegrin riot police forces during demonstrations for free and fair elections. A shocking video of the incident, shown below, was filmed by one of the policemen and shows the security forces dragging Bajčetić out of his damaged vehicle before starting to beat him with their batons.
In court, the Montenegrin riot police argued that these recordings 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.
Koca Pavlovic, Member of the Parliament of Montenegro and Vicepresident of Movement for Changes (PzP), said:
We understand that this verdict is another shameful proof that the authorities in Montenegro are trying to discipline their critics and „disobedient“ opposition politicians as well as all those who are fighting for free and fair elections.
It is beyond comprehension that an innocent person, who was brutally beaten up by riot police forces, is sentenced to three months in prison – while those, who beat him up, remain free and are treated as the injured party. PzP condemns this legal shame in the strongest possible terms and asks all of its members, friends and colleagues at home and abroad to send letters of condemnation to the Montenegrin government.
Nikola Bajcetic is the President of PzP’s youth organization, which he represents at the Podgorica city council. He has suffered serious injuries from his arrest, while no police officer got hurt.
AECR 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.