A former mayor accused of sexual harassment has joined the Serbian Radical Party of Vojislav Seselj and is awaiting elections as a lawmaker’s post would give him immunity, Cedomir Cupic, Professor at the Faculty of Political Science, told N1 on Saturday.
This case, as well as the one concerning Serbia’s Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin shows a “flagrant misuse of institutions,” the Professor said.
Former mayor of the town of Brus, Milutin Jelicic Jutka, has been accused of sexual harassment by Marija Lukic and his trial is to start on March 6.
However, his defence team has requested several judges to be exempted the same day Seselj announced that Jelicic has joined his party and will be a candidate at the forthcoming elections.
“He is probably going to wait for elections and then invoke his immunity,” the Professor said, reminding that Jelicic was previously a member of the Serbian Progressive Party of Aleksandar Vucic and that almost everybody from that party has once been a member of Seselj’s Radicals.
For Jelicic, a return to Seselj’s party means a return to his initial party, he said.
“In the end, Seselj is their boss and he is just showing how much of a boss he is. It is a form of pressure - for you to appear in court and almost present yourself as his lawyer,” Cupic told N1.
All of this, he said, is a gross embarrassment and misuse of institutions.
“In this case of the court and the prosecution, which are both allowing this case to be dragged on until it can be closed due to immunity a lawmaker’s mandate carries,” he said.
This is why the professor previously proposed that a lawmaker’s immunity should be limited to only what is being said in the Parliament.
“As soon as you leave the parliament building, your immunity does not apply. Why would you have it? That’s my idea,” Cupic said, adding that in some other countries lawmakers are held responsible for everything they do.
“This is important to emphasize as the misuse of immunity is immense. Look what Vulin has done,” he said.
He referred to the so-called ‘Vulingate’ scandal that saw the Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin respond to an opinion piece by a former defence minister that was never published.
Former defence minister and current opposition politician Dragan Sutanovac sent his article via email to the editor of a weekly which decided not to publish it.
This raised the question of how Vulin knew about the article and whether the government is spying on people’s electronic communications.
The case was reviewed on Friday by a commission that oversees the work of the security agencies which concluded that the former defence minister was not spied on.
“I now expect the United States - and this is how Nixon lost power - to call Vucic and urgently request his resignation,” the Professor said.
“If we want civilizational and European values, then our eyes are on countries with the most developed democracies,” he said.
Cupic said he also expects the prosecution to react.
The prosecutor should “first probe whether the court-approved wiretapping, to question Vulin, to see who he got this (the text) from as there are four ways this could have occurred,” he said.
He listed the institutions one by one, saying that the military intelligence has already said it was not them, so the intelligence service has to be probed, the criminal police and then investigators have to check whether someone has privately done this, Cupic said.