“The decision has been made and at the beginning of next week, [Martinovic’s case] will be returned to the lower court,” the Supreme Court told reporters.
The initial case sparked substantial criticism from the EU on human rights grounds.
In March 2021, the Podgorica Court of Appeals rejected Martinović’s appeal and upheld his prison sentence. The Committee to Protect Journalists responded to the decision in support of Martinovic.
“Montenegro seems determined to continue denying journalist Jovo Martinović the justice he deserves in his fight to clear his name of retaliatory drug charges,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martínez de la Serna at the time.
“Authorities should accept Martinović’s appeals to have his case reviewed by the prosecutor general and Supreme Court, and should stop their campaign of legal harassment against the journalist,” he continued.
Martinovic has said he will continue to work to prove his innocence.
“Unfortunately, in Montenegro, it is not up to the prosecutor to prove guilt, but up to journalists to prove their innocence. This retrial could be good for media freedom and I will continue to fight,” the investigative journalist told reporters.
Martinovic was arrested in October 2015 alongside 17 others in a joint operation conducted between Montenegrin and Croatian police. He spent close to one and a half years in custody before being released in January 2017 ahead of his initial trial.
Martinovic was convicted in the first-instance ruling in January 2019 of drug trafficking and membership of a criminal organisation, but the verdict was overturned by the Appeals Court.
The investigative journalist has maintained that he made contact with alleged drug traffickers as part of his reporting work.
Only two of the 17 suspects arrest in 2015 were contacts of Martinovic, namely Namik Selmanovic and Dusko Martinovic.
Dusko Martinovic is the main suspect in the case, and is a convicted member of a gang of jewel thieves known as the Pink Panthers. With operations through the US, Europe, Middle East and Asia, the Pink Panthers are suspected of stealing hundreds of millions of euros worth of jewellery.
The investigative journalist Martinovic worked with Dusko Martinovic on a TV series about the robbers produced by Vice media group.
The European Commission’s 2021 report about Montenegro’s progress toward EU accession cited the journalists’ case as cause for concern.