Montenegrin opposition leader Milan Knezevic has been hiding in the parliament for several days since he and a fellow leader of the opposition Democratic Front (DF) were given short sentences for refusing to testify in a high profile trial.
Montenegro’s high court sentenced the two leaders of the pro-Russian opposition DF to jail after they refused to testify in an investigation into alleged bribe taking by chief special prosecutor Milivoje Katnic, local media reported.
Knezevic and Nebojsa Medojevic refused to testify in the investigation that was launched after Medojevic accused Katnic of taking a €100,000 bribe from a former mayor of Podgorica to keep him out of jail. Katnic is the leading prosecutor in the trial into the October 2016 coup plot, in which the two leaders are among the indicted.
Medojevic, who has parliamentary immunity, was arrested after leaving the parliament building on November 30, the DF announced on Facebook. According to his wife, he has started a hunger strike in jail.
Medojevic and Knezevic, who has already served a four-month sentence for violence during an anti-government rally, were sentenced to two months in jail each for refusing to testify in the bribery probe.
Unlike Medojevic, Knezevic has managed to escape arrest so far, hiding in the parliament. His fellow party members are there with him, saying they will defend him, while DF supporters gathered in front of the parliament building on the evening of December 2 following the DF’s appeals.
According to the DF, Medojevic’s arrest was illegal as he still has immunity as an MP.
The two opposition leaders are among the 14 people indicted for plotting the coup along with two senior members of the Russian security services, GRU.
The coup plot was intended to help the DF to seize power in Montenegro on the night of the October 2016 general election. The prosecution has accused the two Russians of organising the plot. One of them, Eduard Sirokov, was also accused of “preparing acts against the constitutional order and security of Montenegro through incitement” and terrorism.
Medojevic is also on trial for money laundering, but the case has been delayed twice due to procedural issues.