Montenegrin journalist Jovo Martinovic was in court yesterday for the presentation of the closing arguments in a case against him for alleged participation in international drug trafficking. The verdict is expected to be delivered on 8 October.
In October 2015, police from Montenegro and Croatia arrested 17 people, including Martinovic, on suspicion of drug trafficking and being involved in a criminal organisation. The organisation is believed to have been headed by Montenegrin citizen Dusko Martinovic, an ex-member of an international ring of jewellery thieves called “Pink Panther”.
The journalist spent 15 months in detention despite pleading his innocence. He said that his communication with the defendants was because he was investigating them as a part of his work. He said there is no evidence against him and the case is based on insinuations and assumptions. Further, he said that the charges against him are based on political intolerance towards him and his work.
Martinovic was sentenced last year for 18 months for the alleged crime but the Court of Appeals -revoked the decision stating there was no clear connection between Martinovic and the crimes. The verdict of the case is expected to be delivered on 8 October, over five years since the legal battle started.
Yesterday, the court summoned two former defendants but called them as witnesses instead. The case rests on the testimony of someone who was given a pardon for being caught with 20kg of cannabis, in return for testifying against the journalist.
Speaking Exit, Martinovic said; “Here we have a situation where the SPO has knowingly and deliberately pardoned a drug dealer in exchange for a testimony against a journalist who fights corruption going to the highest levels. Really, bravo for the regime that wants to join the EU.”
Martinovic said that the five-year-long ordeal has had a huge impact on him, his work, and his family but that he will not give up.
“I hope that justice will win this time but I am ready to fight on if needs be,” he said.