Bandić's Mayoral Terms Marked by Many Projects and Suspected Wrongdoings

By 28 February 2021
Bandić's Mayoral Terms Marked by Many Projects and Suspected Wrongdoings

ZAGREB, 28 February 2021 - The six mayoral terms of Milan Bandić, who died of a massive heart attack early Sunday morning, were marked by many projects implemented in the capital city as well as by a series of corruption scandals and a few court proceedings.

Bandić was born in Grude in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1955, where he finished primary and elementary school. He graduated from the Zagreb Faculty of Political Science and after that he worked in the Ledo factory of frozen food.

He began his political career as a member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Bandić was erased from the SDP membership in 2009 before a presidential election when he defied the then party leadership's suggestion that he should not run for head of state. When he and the SDP parted their ways, Bandić ran for president as an independent candidate. In the presidential runoff in January 2010, he was defeated by the SDP candidate Ivo Josipović. Later he formed his own political party called "The Party of Labour and Solidarity 365".

His first mayoral term started in 2000, however, two years later he stepped down due to a traffic accident which he caused driving under the influence. However, in 2005 he resumed his mayoral duties.

Many projects implemented

During Bandić's 20-year-long term in the office of Zagreb mayor, many projects were implemented to raise the living standards of about 800,000 inhabitants.

The city has 433 pre-school and educational institutions and a third of them have been built, reconstructed, or upgraded in the last 20 years.

In the said period the city got a new emergency health building, the Museum of Contemporary Arts, the Music Academy, and swimming pools in the neighborhoods of Sesvetski Kraljevec, Svetice and Utrine.

As a result of the upgrade of the public transportation system, there are now 270 trams in the city and 430 buses as well as vehicles for persons with disabilities.

Bundek Park, built around a lake of the same name, has become a well-known outdoor venue for public gatherings.

The former complex of a pig farm in Jelkovec on the eastern outskirts of  Zagreb was turned into a residential area.

The crossroads of the Jadranska Avenija and Avenija Dubrovnik streets, which is also known as the Rotor roundabout in southwest Zagreb, was reconstructed and some other projects were implemented to improve the road infrastructure in the city.

Mayoral terms plagued by corruption scandals

Bandić's mayoral terms were plagued by many scandals, only two of which ended with non-final court verdicts, although more than 250 criminal complaints were filed against him.

In October 2014, Bandić and several of his closest associates were arrested on suspicion of crimes at the expense of the City of Zagreb, including illegal favouring and hiring, waste management, the use of official cars for private purposes and forging documents in a case later dubbed Agram.

After one month in custody, Bandić was released on HRK 15 million kuna bail. He was not allowed to return to work, sign acts nor communicate with city employees. He ended back in custody due to witness tampering and was released following a Constitutional Court decision.

Earlier this month, the High Administrative Court quashed a Conflict of Interest Commission decision under which Bandić failed to perform his duty honourably and independently because he received HRK 15 million from the Hanžeković and Partners law firm as bail to be released from custody as well as contributions from citizens after the 2009 presidential election in which he had run.

In April 2018, the Zagreb County Court upheld seven counts of the indictment in the Agram case for illegal activities at the expense of the city, while three counts relating to waste management were returned to the prosecution for elaboration and were upheld in October 2019.

The trial in the Agram case is under way. At a hearing this past Wednesday, an expert on waste management testified that the terms in a non-public tender were adjusted to the possibilities and permits of companies from the CIOS group, owned by Petar Pripuz, Bandić's co-defendant.

The Zagreb County Court also tried Bandić for favouring the In the Name of the Family NGO. He was acquitted pending appeal in October 2018. The Supreme Court has still not ruled on the appeals.

Bandić had many health problems in recent years, and his health started deteriorating in 2003 when he suffered a stroke. In recent years he was treated for health and lung problems as well as for ruptures.

Bandić's funeral is set for noon Wednesday at Mirogoj cemetery, and the city administration will hold a commemoration in tribute to this long-standing mayor at 11 am on Tuesday in the Croatian National Theatre (HNK).

A book of condolence was opened in the Zagreb City Assembly.