photo: Tanjug / Zoran Žestić

On 25 January 2022, the Renewables and Environmental Regulatory Institute (RERI) filed a criminal complaint against the responsible person, acting Director and Legal Representative of the Public Electricity Company of Serbia (EPS), Milorad Grčić, due to grounds for suspicion that he committed the crime of Grave Offenses against General Safety, prescribed by Article 288 paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia, in connection with the crime of the Causing of general danger prescribed by Article 278, paragraph 2 of the same Code. 

Namely, EPS violated provisions of the Energy Law related to the obligations of electricity producers to maintain production capacities in proper condition, ensure their constant operational readiness and safe use in line with technical and other regulations and standards. Non-compliance caused a number of events and accidents at thermal power plant (TPP) Nikola Tesla from 12 until 27 December 2021 and resulted in commitment of the criminal offense Grave Offenses against General Safety in connection with the criminal offense of Causing of General Danger by the Acting director and legal representative of EPS. 

His failure to act, i.e. to properly maintain the production capacities of TPP Nikola Tesla, resulted in several consecutive fires, for which he could be sentenced from 1 (one) to 8 (eight) years in prison, in accordance with the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia.

Although, according to the announcements, no one was injured in the accidents at the TPP Nikola Tesla, the lives of EPS employees who were present at the time of the fire were endangered, as well as the accidents resulted in large-scale property damage.

The Law on Liability of Legal Entities for Criminal Offenses excludes criminal liability of legal entities exercising public authorities, which is why RERI filed a request for initiation of commercial offence procedure against EPS because, contrary to the legal obligation, EPS did not maintain production capacities in proper condition, nor did it ensure their constant operational readiness and safe use in line with technical and other regulations and standards. The offence is punishable with a fine in the amount of RSD 1,500,000 to 3,000,000.

Minister of Mining and Energy Zorana Mihajlović and other officials within the Ministry confirmed RERI’s findings, and stated, among other things, that plans and projects were not respected and that all technological processes and procedures were completely neglected. They added that the system had not been properly maintained for a long time, which is why RERI proposed that they be examined in the proceedings.

What seems to be forgotten is the role and responsibilities of the inspector within the Ministry of Mining and Energy, who has the obligation to examine whether energy facilities, devices and installations meet the prescribed conditions for electricity production. In case an inspector discovers illegalities in the work of electricity producers, he is obliged to order measures for their elimination and to initiate appropriate criminal proceedings and commercial offence proceedings. The Ministry of Mining and Energy is not and cannot be just a silent observer who was deceived by EPS, who has been submitting reports that largely differ from the situation on the field.

Finally, RERI points out that EPS will remain a “state within a state” as long as the competent ministries and the Government of the Republic of Serbia refuse to supervise its work and continue to leave EPS a large autonomy in terms of compliance with legal regulations.

RERI expects the competent public prosecutor’s offices to conduct evidentiary actions in accordance with the submitted requests.

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