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news 24 Oct 17

Montenegrin Opposition Rallies to Mark Protest Anniversary

Montenegro’s opposition Democratic Front will take to the streets to mark the second anniversary of mass anti-government protests and demand that those responsible for alleged police brutality are punished.

Dusica Tomovic
 The Democratic Front led the protests in Octobar 2015.

Montenegro’s strongest opposition force, the pro-Russian Democratic Front alliance, has called on other anti-government groups to join its rally on October 24 and mark two years since what it claims was the largest-ever protest in the tiny Adriatic country.

The Front said the protesters will visit several locations in the capital Podgorica where there was alleged police brutality during the demonstration two years ago, saying that those responsible are yet to be prosecuted.

"October 24 is a reminder that this kind of thing should never happen again. Many went unpunished, and tomorrow is a real opportunity to express protest against a regime that is not punishing bullies," Front official Slaven Radunovic told a press conference on Monday.

The mass protests that started in September 2015 saw demonstrators camp outside parliament for weeks, calling for the resignation of then Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and for the holding of early elections.

Joined by other opposition parties and civil society organisations, they demanded the formation of a transitional government in place of Djukanovic, who has been at the centre of power since the early 1990s.

The protests turned violent on October 24, 2015, when police fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

At least three opposition leaders and several MPs were injured in the clashes, which erupted when protesters tried to march on parliament.

The SAJ police anti-terrorism unit was involved in the crackdown, which led to investigations into the abuse of police power and the possible use of torture.

More than 30 police beat up the Montenegrin athlete and boxing legend Mijo Martinovic during the protest on October 24.

He was left lying in the street with severe injuries, although police eventually took him to hospital.

During a trial which started in spring 2016, police declined to disclose the names of the officers who beat up the protesters, insisting their identities were unknown because they were wearing helmets.

The opposition and civil sector groups have been demanding prosecutions, accusing the police of obstructing investigations and covering up evidence.

After a three-month investigation by the prosecutor's office, Martinovic was paid 130,000 euros in compensation.


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