Montenegro lifts immunity of four opposition MPs after heated debate

Montenegro lifts immunity of four opposition MPs after heated debate
By bne IntelliNews July 28, 2017

Montenegro’s parliament has lifted the immunity of four more MPs of the pro-Russian opposition Democratic Front (DF) as required by the prosecution after a tense debate, broadcaster RTCG reported.

Earlier this year, the parliament lifted the immunity of three DF leaders, two of them suspected of participating in a coup plot in October 2016, while the third was allegedly involved in money laundering. The DF claims that in all cases proof has been falsified and the accusations aim to compromise the party and remove it from Montenegro’s political scene ahead of the 2018 presidential election.

One of the four MPs whose immunity was lifted on July 26 already lost it in February, opening the way for him to be tried in the coup plot case, however the prosecution had to ask for it again in line with formal procedures. The DF claimed that asking the parliament to lift the immunity of one of its leaders twice shows the party’s importance and how threatened the ruling party seems to feel by its growing force.

Following the July 26 decision, six of the DF's 18 MPs have lost their immunity. The party claims this is proof that the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) aims to destroy its main opposition party, using state institutions as its tool. It has said many times that thanks to the DPS’s actions Montenegro is on the brink of a civil war. However, the opposition party will most likely stay calm during the summer although it could initiate anti-government protests in autumn.

The four MPs - Milan Knezevic, Milutin Djukanovic, Marina Jocic and Branko Radulovic – have been under investigation for their participation in violence in the parliament in February when MPs lifted the immunity of two of the DF’s leaders, Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic, who are accused of playing a key role in the coup plot with the aim of seizing power in the country. At a session to discuss the issue, DF hit and insulted MPs from the ruling party. 

According to the prosecution, the four MPs acted as an organised group insulting fellow MPs.

During the debates, several DF MPs said they would give up their immunity voluntarily and claimed that their party has been under constant attack as its members are "true patriots who wish to free Montenegro".

The debate was interrupted after an offensive statement by Jovan Vucurovic of the DF, who accused the MPs from the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists of being "servants", while other DF MPs added that one DPS member was "scum", RTCG reported.

Despite attending the debate, DF MPs left the hall before voting, saying that they are boycotting the work of parliament and were only only forced to attend the debate to defend themselves. The DF has been boycotting the work of the parliament since the October 16 general election, but participated in the debates at the end of June when one of their leaders, Nebojsa Medojevic, was also stripped of immunity as he was suspected of money laundering.

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