The Montenegrin higher court confirmed on Friday the indictment of the former mayor of Podgorica, Slavoljub Stijepovic, for aiding in money laundering within the framework of a criminal organization in a case known as “Envelope”.
The special state prosecutor initially laid the charge in February 2019 after the release of a 2016 video clip in which Dusko Knezevic, chairman of the Montenegro-based Atlas group, appeared to hand over to then-mayor Slavoljub Stijepovic, an envelope containing what Knezevic later said was $ 200,000. to finance election campaigns.
Knezevic, who is now reportedly in London, told media he had given the ruling Socialist Democratic Party, the DPS, led by President Milo Djukanovic, such sums for about 25 years, during which time the DPS had never been in power.
The video clip provoked a group of public figures, academics, activists and journalists called Odupri se! (Resist!) To launch protests in which tens of thousands of people took to the streets accusing Djukanovic and his DPS of presiding over poverty, corruption and loss of human rights and freedom medias.
The protests continued until May 2019, but did not result in early elections.
The DPS and Djukanovic denied any wrongdoing, saying all donations were recorded in the party’s financial records.
In February 2019, the DPS was fined 20,000 euros and 47,500 euros to the State. But the High Court stayed the criminal proceedings against Stijepovic.
After an appeal from the special state prosecutor’s office in April this year, the High Court’s decision to stay the proceedings was overturned.
Stijepovic is now advisor to President Djukanovic’s cabinet and head of the Democratic Socialist Party.