On August 1st, 2012, , the Zrenjanin Police arrested Jugoremedija’s General Director, Zdravko Deuric and Financial Director Anika Malusic, as well as a Director of Penpharm, Milana Zlokas on the basis of a “suspicion” of criminal offence abuse of power. Those under arrest are the very individuals who brought to light the plunder associated with the first “privatization’ of Jugoremedija, a process now facing scrutiny by the European Commission. The charges “abuse of power” are a relic of the influence of Soviet jurisprudence on domestic law, which is especially known to be used in politically manufactured cases, and which remains part of Serbian criminal law, despite repeated comments from the Europe an Commission. This case impacts not only the concrete persons in question but over 450 workers and 4000 small shareholders of Jugoremedija and Penpharm since it is orchestrated in order to gain State/tycoon control over these factories and close them down. This repression calls for special measures in the form of specialized lawyers that can deal with political cases. We, therefore, appeal to you on the basis of workers’ struggle and Human Rights, who recognized the faults in the privatization process and criminal code to support morally and financially the defense of this case.
More details about the case:
These arbitrary arrests, on the 1st of August, resulted in significant breaches of the law on criminal procedure, because prior to the issuance of decisions on detention, the detainees were not allowed to present defenses: they were not informed of the charges against them, nor were they interrogated, contrary to any minimum guarantees of liberty and due process. The investigation was opened on August 3rd, when Zdravko Deuric and Milana Zlokas were ordered detain for one month, on the basis of the need to “examine witnesses”, while the other defendants were released. The detention ordered as the investigating judge is on vacation while the Court is on annual recess. As a result, detainees must remain in prison, ostensibly to prevent undue “influence of witnesses’, although in this matter, the relevant facts will be established through financial and other documents, and not on the basis of witness testimony.
Upon opening their investigation, the Zrenjanjin Police continued to “build” their case on a foundation of flagrant violations of the law, by asking Jugoremedija workers every day to attend for investigation as citizens, despite the fact that after opening on August 3rd, investigation ought to require workers being interrogated as witnesses, in front of a judge. The police invitations for informational discussions indicate that the invitations are aimed at collecting evidence of criminal acts relating to abuse of power. The Zrenanjin police and courts are simultaneously pursuing and overlapping two procedural phases: pre-trial and investigatory. The criminal process is thus brought to a close, replaced by institutional lawlessness, preceded by physical violence that continues -extrajudicial attacks on the workers of Jugoremedija such as throwing concrete block into one of the worker’s-activist’s bedroom in February and setting Zdravko Deuric’s car on fire a week before his arresting.
Since the cancelation of the privatization contract and return of the company to the hands of the workers and small shareholders in March 2007, the company is constantly “under investigation” but since August 1″, the business of Jugoremedija has been usurped by constant demands and orders from tax inspectors and corporate crime investigators who spend all their time at Jugoremedija and interfere with work. And while one group of workers is called for investigation, the remaining workers are “employed’ for the purpose of producing “cases” from arbitrary suspicions and accusations.
Jugoremedija endures a heavy burden, unable to perform business as usual and to cope with already very difficult situation caused by the actions of state agencies, which the European Parliament addressed in Resolution B7-000012012 (issued March 29, 2012), calling on “the Serbian authorities to review immediately the controversial privatisation and sale of 24 companies, seeing that the European Commission found serious doubts concerning their legality, including [… ] Jugoremedija’. The current actions of the Zrenanjin police and courts are revenge because the workers of Jugoremedija have succeeded in alerting the European Commission .
On the 20 of September, Zdravko Deuric and Milana Zlokas were freed after 50 days in jail, 15 days after all the witnesses were heard and no charges were handed in to the court. The allegations were widen to another two persons – the chief driver and the head procurer which have no access to the major criminal accusation. Such behavior by police and judicial authorities make it clear that they lack foundation for investigation and are simply randomly shaking down any aspect of Jugoremedija’s work, hoping that evidence will be revealed. Yet all indications are that there is no case. Two people were unjustly detained, while the other Jugoremedija workers are terrorized daily by unceasing demands for unlawful interrogations, clearly with the goal of intimidation and fear.
From all the said above it is clear the legal attack on Jugoremedija, Penfarm, their directors, workers and small shareholders is motivate by political and economic interests and not by genuine legal doubts. This calls for a team of lawyers that can deal with political-economic cases which is beyond the financial capabilities of the individuals and firms involved, therefore we would greatly appreciate any help you could offer.