Montenegro coup plot trial adjourned
The trial of two pro-Russian opposition leaders and 12 others over their role in an alleged bid to topple Montenegro’s government was adjourned yesterday after claims the prosecutor was biased. The 14 suspects, who risk lengthy jail terms, include Democratic Front leaders Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic as well as two Russian nationals who will be tried in absentia. “The prosecutor put pressure on defendants and their lawyers. We are talking about absolute bias,” Milan Petrovic, one of the defense lawyers, told the court.
Prosecutor Milivoje Katnic has also published transcripts of a conversation between a prominent lawyer and one of the accused he was supposed to defend. “We are shocked with such behavior,” Petrovic said. A ruling on the demand is expected by today.
Montenegrin police arrested a group of Serbians on the eve of a general election in October, accusing them of planning to storm parliament and target the pro-Western Milo Djukanovic, who was then prime minister. Authorities allege that “Russian state bodies” were involved in the conspiracy in a bid to prevent Montenegro from joining NATO. The trial has drawn huge public and media interest. The courtroom was packed and a few dozen Democratic Front supporters waited outside with placards saying: “Freedom for Andrija and Milan,” the two pro-Russian opposition leaders. —AFP