There is confusion in the court about whether American David Upcher, the Head of the Special Department for Organized Crime of the BiH Prosecutor’s Office is leaving his position almost a year before the end of his mandate.
Court officials say he is, but Upcher told reporters from the Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo (CIN) that he will finish his term which ends in December of 2007.
“Those are rumors that somebody is spreading to harm me, for reasons unknown to me”, says Upcher. “I don’t see any reason to further discuss that.”
The Office of the High Representative for BiH (OHR) appointed him to the position in late November of 2005.
Boris Grubešić, spokesman from the Prosecutor’s Office, said that he is leaving. The US Embassy in Sarajevo which provides funding for the court refused comment. OHR refused comment and referred reporters to the court.
David Swendiman, acting registrar in the Prosecutor’s Office, said Upcher is leaving for private reasons and probably wouldn’t be coming back.
Admir Katica, spokesperson for the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), said they know nothing about Upcher leaving, although they should be among the first to find out, in order to be able to find a timely replacement.
Chief Prosecutor Marinko Jurčević when asked in an earlier interview for CIN to give his opinion on the work of the special department and its chief, said: “From what I can see, he is working on department development and I think that this department will be in a full swing in 2008.”
Under Upcher, the department has filed 20 indictments, including four by international prosecutors.
Upcher came to BiH in 2002, volunteering as an expert with the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Legal Initiative for Central and Eastern Europe, which works to improve the legal system in BiH.
In that same year, he left ABA to lead the Disciplinary Council of the HJPC.
In November 2005, Upcher became the deputy chief prosecutor and head of the Special Department for Organized Crime, Economic Crime and Corruption in the BiH Prosecutors office.
His background was mostly as a corporate lawyer in the U.S.