Michigan Student Assembly Rep. Anton Vuljaj pled not guilty at his preliminary examination Wednesday to two charges relating to the March 2006 student government election. One was a felony charge of using a computer to commit a crime, which carries penalties of up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine, and the other was a high court misdemeanor charge of interfering with an electronic device, which carries penalties of up to two years in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Vuljaj was charged in connection with the denial of service attacks launched to shut down the Michigan Progressive Party’s website during the election. Vuljaj was a member of rival party Students 4 Michigan.

A preliminary examination requires the prosecution to show evidence providing probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the crime. On Wednesday, Doug Lewis, Vuljaj’s attorney and the director of Student Legal Services, bypassed this step and moved for a pretrial hearing.

Judge John B. Collins granted the motion. The pretrial conference, an opportunity for the prosecution and defense to discuss matters that will simplify the trial, was scheduled for Jan. 3.

Engineering senior Joel Schweitzer faced the same charges as Vuljaj, but in return for his cooperation and testimony in the Vuljaj case, the charges were dropped at Schweitzer’s Nov. 14 preliminary examination. He then plead guilty to a lesser charge – a misdemeanor count of attempted telephone tapping, carrying penalties of up to two years in prison and a $1,000 fine.

At his examination, Schweitzer agreed to testify during Vuljaj’s Wednesday examination, but this did not happen because of its cancellation.

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