The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina handed down its first verdict based on evidence obtained from a global crackdown on communications app Sky ECC and Anom.
Alem Zukic, 32, pleaded guilty to participating in a drug trafficking enterprise. He was sentenced to one year in prison, and fined 4,000 Bosnian marks (about 2,000 euros). The court ordered the removal of unlawfully acquired property to the value of 2,000 euros.
“From the very beginning of the criminal proceedings, the accused has cooperated with the law enforcement authorities and his testimony during the initial stages of the investigation significantly contributed to the successful and efficient conclusion of the investigation,” read the court decision.
While Bosnia’s top court has received and accepted evidence gathered from a global crackdown on communications app Sky ECC and Anom, lawyers in Montenegro and Serbia have questioned the admissibility of this evidence.
On 10 May, a group of lawyers held a protest in Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica, accusing the Higher Court and Special State Prosecution of misusing Sky ECC transcripts as part of efforts to order detentions and file indictments. Protesters said Sky ECC transcripts must be supported by material evidence.
“We have been going through hardships ever since the Sky ECC appeared as evidence. From the courts’ point of view, Sky ECC transcripts are perceived as evidence and on the basis of it our defendants are put in custody for a long period of time,” said lawyer Zdravko Begovic, present at the protest.
In the lead up to Veljko Belivuk’s trial preparation hearing in July 2022 in the Serbian capital Belgrade, Belivuk’s lawyer Nikola Ristovic also questioned the admissibility of evidence obtained from communications app Sky.
Belivuk is accused of running a crime gang connected to drug trafficking, kidnapping, money laundering and a series of killings. He plead not guilty at the opening of the trial in October 2022.
Alem Zukic was arrested in April 2022 as part of the police action codenamed “Diablo 2.” He was a member of a group led by Sako Bibic and others who are suspected of smuggling more than one thousand kilograms of marijuana from Bosnia across the border into the European Union.
As a result of cooperation between Bosnian authorities and the European law enforcement agency EUROPOL, 38 individuals from a number of criminal organizations have been arrested in the past three years. Eight of those arrested were employed in Bosnian police positions at the time of their arrest.
Image via Pixabay