Decision to reject the criminal complaint in the "Kukulovce" case was incorrect

The Appellate Public Prosecutor's Office (APPO) in Nis confirmed[1]our view that the decision of the Higher Public Prosecutor's Office (HPP) to reject the criminal complaint[2] against the former acting director of the PE "Roads of Serbia"[3] for giving bribes in connection with voting on Serbian parliamentary election (21 June 2020) during his pre-election visit to the village Kukulovce was incorrect.[4]

Such a position of the HPP office, as well as detailed arguments regarding the omissions made, restores faith in the possibility that suspicions of corruption, in this case, will be properly investigated. At the same time, no matter what the outcome of the case, it can equally serve as a good signal that the most important anti-corruption body - the public prosecutor's office – is ready to do what it is responsible for. Thus, it can represent encouragement for all who are ready to expose possible corruption to do so.

In the letter that Transparency - Serbia, as the applicant of the criminal report, received from the APP in Nis, the office pointed out irregularities regarding the reasons for the prosecutor's decision and the facts examined in the pre-investigation procedure, as well as the failure to carry out verifications by collecting data or undertaking evidentiary actions. Among other things, it is highlighted that there was the illogical conclusion that the visit to the Kukulovce village had an "informal character", and that it is “unclear how the invitation to the gathered locals to go to the polls can be related to the legal and statutory powers of the company entrusted with public management of state roads”. It was also assessed that it was irrelevant whether the possible perpetrator of the criminal act is a member of a political organization because, as it is said, it is a criminal act that can be committed by any person.

It is particularly important that it is stated that while rejecting the criminal report there was no fact-finding as to whether the promised road construction was within the competence of this public company, and whether these costs were planned in accordance with legal conditions.

On the other hand, the APP questioned the possibility of committing the crime of "giving and receiving bribes in connection with voting" by promising some benefit of general importance - such as road construction. Such a crime refers only to cases where some "personal" benefit is promised to the particular person, the letter reads. At the same time, it was indicated that such actions could be referred to as other criminal offences, "for example, the criminal offence of misuse of budget funds", economic offence or misdemeanour.

Whatever the outcome of the criminal complaint in this case, which is one of the most obvious examples of misuse of public resources from the previous election campaign, it is already clear that it is necessary to legally limit the availability of public resources and promotional activities of public officials in the pre-election period. Transparency Serbia has been proposing this for years, and it has already been done in certain countries.




[3] The mandate of the acting of this public company expired by force of law back in 2014 -