In response to their removal from the investigation of malfeasance at the state-run power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS), a protest in support of public prosecutors Bojana Savovic and Jasmina Paunovic, titled “We Stand by Our Lauras,” is scheduled to take place in front of the Serbian Government Headquarters at 3 p.m. on March 2.
The title is a nod to former Romanian Prosecutor General Laura Codruta Kovesi, who was responsible for putting numerous politicians, public officials and businessmen behind bars during Romania’s crackdown on corruption in the early 2000s.
As prosecutors of Belgrade’s High Public Prosecutor’s Office, Savovic and Paunovic had been part of a probe that led to the arrests of six individuals suspected of embezzling USD7.5 million from the power company. Following the arrests, both Savovic and Paunovic were transferred from the Anti-Corruption Division to the General Crime Division of first instance – a decision they claim was made by Public Prosecutor Nenad Stefanovic.
The announced protest has been organized by attorneys who wrote an open letter calling on their colleagues from the academic community and other professional associations to support and join the gathering in Belgrade.
“Let us all rise as one and tell those who believe they own Serbia’s judiciary that We Stand by Our Lauras. We no longer have the right, nor the space, to retreat,” attorneys Jovan Rajic, Cedomir Kokanovic and Ivan Ninic wrote in the name of the event's organizational committee.
The open letter credits Paunovic and Savovic for raising their voices “in a time of utter darkness” and lighting “a spark of hope for the rest of [Serbia’s legal community] with their brave act; hope that [the] profession may be brought back to life and that it may be possible to return to its core values.”
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