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Monday, August 8, 2022

Zvjezdan Radonjić on the Milović case: The prosecutor’s office does not know exactly where the money has supposedly gone, which is not a problem, as senior judges claim that it is not important at all

By: Zvjezdan Radonjić

“In short, I have a very limited view of the matter, which makes it difficult to say anything original or definitive. I have all four charges, all five verdicts and some small documentation.

Based on such a limited review, I cannot assess whether the Čeferin law firm was involved and whether any of the three convicts were guilty, but there is no doubt that the case stinks like a rotten egg, that these were not “clean business,” wrote former judge Zvjezdan Radonjić in a comment.

I.

Asked to comment on the criminal case against the accused Kostiov, Bešić, and Milović, I was reluctant to respond, with difficulty, because I never had the file in my hands. I learned what I learned from indirect sources, I do not know the accused nor the state prosecutor, I do not know who defended them, I had less than two weeks at my disposal. As I understand it, the event is 14 years old, they have been tried five times, the evidence is extensive. I do not know who judged in the first instance, who in the second and who will judge in the third. I do not know anything about Aleksandar and the other Čeferins, I do not know them, I knew Luka Zajc a bit. In short, I have a very limited view of the matter, which makes it difficult to say anything original or definitive. I have all four charges, all five verdicts and some small documentation.

Based on such a limited review, I cannot assess whether the Čeferin law firm was involved and whether any of the three convicts were guilty, but there is no doubt that the case smells like a rotten egg, that there was no “clean business”.

II.

The very fact that the public prosecutor’s office changes the accusation four times, which the courts allow without restrictions, shows the controversial nature of the procedure. As far as I could tell, Kostiov and Bešić were convicted based on the second charge, while Milović was convicted based on the fourth, no one was accused based on the first one. In normal countries of law of the central legal culture (for example, the rank of Latvia) it would not be possible to convict anyone based on a fourth charge! At least a third would be discarded; the public prosecutor, who would allow himself to wander headlong after the proceedings, would be immediately dismissed and fired, the defendants would be paid big damages. Judges of the second instance, who would allow themselves to omit an explanation of why they did not dismiss the charges in a judgment written on dozens of pages, would be suddenly suspended until acquittal, which would be offered as the only option. Already at the first step of the trial under such state acts, chaos is evident, concerning the situation in the judiciary, the quality of substantive and procedural legislation and the scope of judicial-constitutional practice. Article 236 The Amendment of indictments, which is part of the US General Procedural Standards and as such the basis for the mutability of indictments in all normal states, follows from the basic: “The general rule is that indictments cannot be amended in substance. An amendment to an indictment occurs when the charging terms of an indictment are altered. United States v. Cancelliere, 69 F.3d 1116, 1121 (11th Cir. 1995).” In principle, therefore, the accusations are not allowed to be changed, with a small number of rigidly conceived exceptions, which practically always dictates a return to the judgment of the Grand Jury; the case therefore returns to the beginning, the amended indictment is considered new as if the first had not been filed at all. In Russell v. The United States, 369 U.S. 749, 769 (1962), the Supreme Court emphasised that the amendment to the indictment resulted in the defendant: “may then be convicted on the basis of facts not established by the Grand Jury they may not even have been introduced.” That these simple basics, which every student should know, is not known to the public prosecutor and three senior judges is astonishing, as is the fact that Slovenian legal practice allows virtually any change in indictments whenever the public prosecutor ad personam feels like something needs to change.

III.

The essence of the first indictment from 2017 regarding Miloš Njegoslav Milović lay in the accusation that by cooperating he gained 378,000 euros in material gain out of a total of 390,000 euros, as much as the listed three caused damage to SŽ-ŽGP JSC between September and December 2008. For the sake of clarity, let us abstract all other details of the execution – with management tasks Leon Kostiov had therefore supposedly achieved that the accounting of SŽ-ŽGP JSC transferred a total of 390,000 euros to the account of Bešić’s by-pass company NB Inženiring Ltd, which Miloš Njegoslav Milović is said to have received from Bešić as the final addressee. In this part, the indictment reads: “Leon Kostiov gained a large financial gain for NB Inženiring Ltd in the amount of 390,000 euros, part of which was eventually received by Miloš Njegoslav Milović through subsequently executed cash financial transactions, at least in the amount of 378,000 euros, and Nihad Bešić as a reward of at least 5,000 euros from the said amount.” Leon Kostiov therefore pledged his business reputation, risking prosecution and a lawsuit for damages only to enrich Milović for practically the entire amount. The first indictment does not offer any evidence regarding the financial flow, because from the review of the balance of the account of NB Inženiring Ltd there is nothing but cash withdrawals from the sole owner Bešić “for himself”; the indictment does not contain a single piece of evidence on how the withdrawals are related to Milović, where and when he allegedly received the cash, where he supposedly deposited it, to whom he handed it over, etc. Just a claim that Leon Kostiov gave all this power of money to Milović! The 44-page indictment explains a whole bunch of trivia like construction books, work containers, etc., in a single word it does not touch the fate of an amount that was then enough to buy eight furnished apartments in the Principality of Monaco! Kostiov simply “gave” this money to Milović. If the US Attorney General had dared to appear before the Grand Jury with such a well-founded accusation, the jurors would have thrown it in his head and sent him to a mental hospital (without exaggeration). The Slovenian court has ruled on this basis as many as five times and handed down three convictions.

IV.

On January 12th, 2021, the state prosecutor filed the fourth indictment based on which Milović was convicted; Kostiov and Bešić were convicted of a completely different act! The allegation of the latter indictment is diametrically opposed to the former. Milović did not receive 378,000 euros, but only 7,000 euros, in which the prosecutor and senior judges do not perceive any problems; according to them, nothing worth mentioning has changed in the indictment!! In this part, the complaint now reads: “Leon Kostiov gained a large financial gain in the amount of 390,000 euros to NL Inženiring Ltd to the detriment of SŽ-ŽGP JSC, part of which was eventually received in the amount of 383,000 euros by Nihad Bešić, who handed over the remaining part to Miloš Njegoslav Milović up to the total amount of 7,000 euros”. On five pages, the state prosecutor does not explain or at least mention in one word the new evidence based on which he found out after twelve years that Milović did not receive 383,000 euros, nor does he say where the money for eight furnished apartments in the Principality of Monaco went. The indictment is being poured into the conviction by three senior judges without hesitation!

V.

According to the file, just before Milović’s conviction, the case unfolded as follows: after intensive secret negotiations between the state prosecutor and some lawyers who were not part of the trial, one of the lawyers brought cash in the amount of 390,000 euros to the state prosecutor’s office in a plastic bag! Like it was boxed cigarettes. Milović has nothing to do with this money, just as Kostio and Bešić do not. It appeared at the state prosecutor’s office in a polyvinyl bag, which is nice, no worries. Neither the indictment nor the verdict contains any reasons as to who provided the money. The High Court explained the case in such a way that there is no need to show or prove cash flow, as it is not a legal sign of the alleged crime. Following the three senior judges, there are indications in the file that the money is related to the Čeferin Law Firm, but this should have been dealt with by the police, who did not deal with it! If the reasons of the senior judges are summarised, the case reads as follows. Where the money first went from NB Inženiring does not matter; the reasons that led Kostiov are not essential; there are numerous indications in the file that suggest that the Čeferin Law Firm, which represented SŽ-ŽGP in litigation, could be involved in the criminal offenses in question; the conduct of law enforcement authorities that did not follow this information has been reduced; the reason that the background of the transactions has not been fully investigated is that the accusation, which the court is not allowed to cross, refers only to the actions of the accused Milović (sic!); even if it turns out that the initiative was given by a third party or that most of the money ended up going to some third party, this does not affect Milović’s responsibility; Milović undoubtedly assisted in the commission of the criminal offense in question, which had already been completed when SŽ-ŽGP transferred the amounts to NB Inženiring on the basis of fictitious invoices; the involvement of the Čeferin Law Firm is irrelevant.

VI.

What is read in the magazine Demokracija no. 15 of 14.4.2022 is in the spirit of an eminent thriller. Even more shocking was the SDT’s explanation that everything was done legally. “If the allegations of the accused about the big conspiracy and concealment of the role of the law firm were true, the prosecutor would not have acted as he did, and criminal proceedings were instituted against all for whom there was enough evidence, and the prosecutor acted in accordance with duty imposed on him by the Code of Criminal Procedure… Regarding the allegations that all proceedings against the accused were initiated because prosecutor Jeglič allegedly wanted to divert attention from the law firm mentioned in your letter, is another in a series of untruths and slander by the accused. Namely, criminal proceedings were instituted against the accused in 2015 because there was sufficient concrete evidence (witnesses and documentary evidence) to substantiate the suspicion that the latter had actively participated in the criminal offense. This was initially confirmed by the investigating judge, and finally, after the entire criminal proceedings, by the High Court in Ljubljana, as it sentenced him to prison. Prior to 2015, the said prosecutor had never heard of the accused and did not know him, and he still does not know what the latter is doing.” According to their own confession, the prosecutor’s office does not know exactly where the money supposedly went, which is not a problem, as senior judges claim that it is not important at all. According to the SDT as well as senior judges, the police are the ones who should have determined the actual flow of money, but they did not, and the prosecutor’s office sued without knowing where the money went, according to the locals, they sued at a guess! So, first, Milović appropriated all this force of money, then someone else, and in the end anyone, only that the money was circulated back. Do not look a gift horse in the mouth.

Understand who can.

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