Source: Danas

Personal attitude

The CD with the video which should have served as the evidence in the process against the “road mafia” has recently disappeared from the documentation of the Special Court. This shocking news was announced before the continuation of the main hearing by the chairman of the council who conducts proceedings against a criminal group of fifty persons accused of manipulating with false toll payment slips and illegal gain, i.e. damaging the state in the amount of several million euros. 

This news reminded me of G.M, the man I met more than two and a half years ago and who made the video which disappeared from the court record. The video alone is actually not the evidence of the huge robbery. It is the evidence only together with another document, the listing of toll payment slips distribution on toll booths in highway, because when the turnover captured on video and that recorded in the register are compared, a large difference between them can be noticed: it can be seen that many vehicles, in the first place from foreign countries, take toll payment slips, but that those slips cannot be found in the register and thus there is no toll money. After G.M. made the video, he requested assistance from the Commissioner for Information: he demanded protection of his right to free access to information in order to obtain the abovementioned document. And he obtained it. However, he received it only after complications which had lasted for months, after the attempt of the former “Putevi Srbije” management to hide the document behind the commercial secret status and even after its attempt to cancel the decision of the Commissioner for Information, by which it was expressly ordered to make that document public, i.e. to give it to the requester, before the Supreme Court.

G.M. is now an important witness and his video which disappeared is important material evidence in the process against the “road mafia”. I cannot help wondering what the disappearance of the CD would mean to G.M. if it had been the only copy (fortunately, this is not the case). Especially taking into account the price he paid in order to prove he was telling the truth.

The price was too high. As soon as he started to bring the truth to light, he was dismissed from „Putevi Srbije”. He is still unemployed, with all the unpleasant consequences of such status for his and his family's existence.

It reminded me of another court process and another old and non-enforced order of the Commissioner for Information and some interesting things in connection with them. It is the order to „Zeleznice Srbije” to make available to the public the contract on purchase of used Swedish rolling stock. The purchase of the famous “multicoloured carriages” was at that time effected without mandatory public tendering, contrary to explicit warning from the Public Procurement Administration. The agreed price was higher than the planned and approved one because of the brokerage fee. The company which brokered the deal had never imported rolling stock, only fashion clothes. This is why the first-instance judgment passed in legal proceedings following a private lawsuit filed by M.C, the worker who pointed out the unlawfulness from the beginning and was also dismissed, stated that this purchase contract was illegal.

About a year ago, the affair known as the “military secret” got a court epilogue (however, only partial). The book “Military Secret” published several years ago, a collection of highly confidential transcripts from sessions of the former General Staff of our military, showed that there is at least founded suspicion that the former General Staff organized and performed activities which constituted gross violation of human rights, i.e. felonies. He was soon released, but the entire printing run of the book remained confiscated. In connection with this, V.V, the author of the book, asked the Commissioner for Information for help. The Commissioner's intervention and the understanding of the senior staff of the Supreme and County Courts resulted in releasing of the confiscated printing run.

What is common to these people is that they tried to fight crime and corruption in their own environments and to take off the veil from formal or informal secrets. Although they succeeded in making the truth known, the results are also that G.M. and M.C. were dismissed and infringement procedure against V.V. for disclosing the secret is still not dismissed. And how they feel about this should not be only their problem. All the more so because it would be naive to believe that the cases of G.M, M.C. and V.V. were uncommon. There are certainly many, many other cases, less famous, but similar to these.

All these cases together warn about, or should and must remind us about one important, but neglected thing. They should remind us about the need to protect in our legal order in an adequate way people who stand against abuses, crime and corruption in their environments, in a way modern democratic societies do that. People who do that, who come into conflict with formal or informal rules for keeping a secret in order to protect the public interest should not suffer any negative consequences in terms of labour law, misdemeanours, criminal liability or anything else. It must be regulated by a law, or laws. It is indicative and it is not good at all that this is constantly forgotten about within the framework of otherwise dynamic legislative activity. This oblivion costs a lot; it seems extremely discouraging and deprives us of considerable contribution the individuals could give to the fight against abuses and corruption. Taking into account the real dimensions of corruption in our country, any such contribution is not only welcome, but precious as well.