Ex-Minister Žalac Released from Investigative Custody

By 4 January 2022
Ex-Minister Žalac Released from Investigative Custody
Photo: Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL

ZAGREB, 3 Jan 2022 - Former Minister for Regional Development and EU Funds Gabrijela Žalac has been released from investigative custody after all witnesses in the so-called Software case have been interviewed and there is no risk of her interfering with witnesses, a Zagreb County Court investigating judge ruled on Monday.

The other suspects, former Central Finance and Contracting Agency (SAFU) director Tomislav Petric and IT company owners Mladen Šimunac and Marko Jukić, are expected to be released later this week, after all, witnesses have been questioned, Hina learned from sources close to the investigation.

On 10 December, the investigating judge extended the detention of Žalac and the other suspects for a month citing a risk of witness tampering. They were arrested on 10 November on the orders of the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) in Zagreb, which demanded that they be remanded in custody for two months so that they could question 17-18 witnesses.

The investigation was launched by the EPPO following a criminal report filed by the National Police Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime. Žalac, Petric, Šimunac, and Jukić are suspected of defrauding the European Union and Croatia of €1.8 million.

Žalac is suspected of fixing the public procurement of an information system for strategic planning and development management for the companies owned by Šimunić and Jukić. The suspects concluded a harmful deal under which the price of the IT system was increased several times over to HRK 13.4 million (€1.8m) to the detriment of the financial interests of the EU and Croatia.

Žalac is suspected of abuse of office and official authority and of influence peddling, Petric is suspected of abuse of office and official authority, Šimunac is suspected of inciting the abuse of office and official authority, and Jukić is suspected of aiding and abetting the abuse of office and official authority.

For more, check out our politics section.