Thursday, 21 April 2022

Supreme Court President Says Extradition Practice To Be Examined

ZAGREB, 21 April 2022 - Supreme Court president Radovan Dobronić plans to organise a consultation to discuss the existing court practise of extraditing Croatian nationals under the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), Jutarnji List daily said on Thursday.

He told the paper he planned to convene Supreme Court judges, State Attorney's Office (DORH) representatives and criminal law professors from Croatia's four law schools.

Although the Supreme Court took a stand on the extradition and the Constitutional Court has not opposed it, our court practice of acting on the EAW, which was created in a hurry, cannot be considered indisputable, Dobronić said.

If DORH took a completely opposite stand on extradition, if criminal law professors said the Supreme Court's stand was wrong, "we can't say that we don't have a problem," he added.

We should first examine if the Croatian EAW Act is sufficiently clear, then we should examine if the courts have interpreted it correctly, and thirdly, we should see whether we should change the practice, the law, or nothing, Dobronić said.

In his opinion, in acting on the EAW, Croatia should not deviate from the laws and practices in force in most EU member states.

"If Germany doesn't extradite its citizens under certain conditions, then we shouldn't do it either. Generally speaking, there is no reason for us to extradite our citizens more than other EU states and to build our own original extradition practice," Dobronić was quoted as saying, adding that "extradition is an exemption and we should apply it extremely restrictively."

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Grbin: Election Only Salvation for Croatia

ZAGREB, 19 Feb 2022 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin said on Saturday, in reference to the arrest of Minister Darko Horvat, that after more than 20 years a member of the government has been arrested, underscoring that the only thing that can save Croatia now is an election.

"Today, after more than 20 years, a member of the Croatian government has been arrested. A minister who is in office has been arrested for something that he did as a member of the government. Not just any minister, but the one who hasn't done anything to help the people in Zagreb and Banovina to reconstruct their houses. A minister to whom Andrej Plenković evidently owes something if he keeps him in the government after everything," Grbin told reporters.

He believes that this is the time to act promptly and that the situation needs to be resolved today already.

"How is it possible for a minister who is at the police and giving a statement to do anything his job requires in the days to come without any problems? Instead, we have an arrogant prime minister, we have a man with the manners of a dictator who is bothered because his excellent week has been ruined and someone disturbed him on Saturday morning," said Grbin.

He warned that to top it all the HDZ, "a party from which we have seen this before," is now trying to implicate the State Attorney's Office (DORH) and the judiciary in the whole story.

"That is diverting the focus, that is what Plenković tried to do today and we will not allow it. Next week already the Judiciary, Domestic Policy and National Security Committee will be convened. The HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) has to say whether it agrees for the committee to be convened and there DORH has to respond to all the questions put to it," added Grbin.

He added that he expects Attorney General Zlata Hrvoj Šipek to make a statement on this case, but not in a phone call or tete-a-tete with the prime minister, but before the legislature, media and citizens.

He believes that if Horvat will fall, the whole government should fall too and after that citizens will choose who they want to lead the country.

Horvat should not be allowed to continue in his office as a minister even if he is released from custory later today, he said. "This needs to end as soon as possible and this is Andrej Plenković's responsibility."

Commenting on the extension of the deadline to use EU funds for post-earthquake reconstruction, Grbin said Plenković "crawled in Brussels" to fix what Horvat "mucked up."

"This is the moment when all this has to end and it is left up to citizens to decide in which direction we should continue. If it's true that this case involves another minister, a deputy prime minister and a former minister, a state secretary and the director of a department... literally half the government is under investigation for committing crimes. Who can say at the moment that they are running this country?"

"We have a debate on a vote of no confidence in Minister Horvat (in the Sabor) on Wednesday. There is also the situation with (Economy) Minister Ćorić where documents exist, not just depositions, on his deep involvement in corruption, as a result of which all of us have dearer electricity bills," Grbin said.

As far as Plenković is concerned, it's business as usual, and if that's the case, then Croatia is no longer a state but a failed project, yet it has never been that and never will be, he concluded.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 10 September 2021

Police Director Says USKOK Anti-Corruption Operation Refers to Six Persons

ZAGREB, 10 Sept 2021 - National police director Nikola Milina said on Friday that a major anti-corruption operation launched in the northern region of Međimurje on Friday morning by police and the USKOK anti-corruption agency referred to six persons, without saying if one of them is Međimurje County head Matija Posavec.

"The operation refers to six people," Milina said when asked by reporters if Posavec was arrested.

Milina explained that the persons in question were suspected of corruption.

He stressed that major efforts had been invested to fight corruption and that in the first eight months of 2021, 682 crimes of corruption had been reported, over 80% more than in the same period of 2020.

According to unofficial reports, Međimurje County head Posavec was arrested for taking a bribe in the operation launched against six people, including Social Democrat MP and former Čakovec mayor Stjepan Kovač.

They are suspected of bribery, influence-peddling and abuse of office.

The Večernji List daily has reported that Posavec allegedly took a bribe of HRK 10,000 to employ a person.

The parliamentary Privileges and Credentials Commission is expected to meet at 3 pm to decide on USKOK's motion to strip Kovač of immunity.

For the latest news on politics in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Highlights of the Week: 5 Big Events in Croatia from June 28-July 4

June 3, 2021 - TCN's highlights of the week. A look at the events in Croatia from June 28 through the selection of TCN's reporter Ivor Kruljac.

EURO 2020 elimination and Dario Šarić in the NBA finals. Zagreb witnessing a series of arrests related to corruption of Milan Bandić's reign and explosive device planted in Split. In the midst of it all, is COVID-19 vaccination on its way to becoming obligatory and not optional? You may prefer the good news or the bad news, but here is both, as another week in Croatia comes to an end.


© Marin Tironi / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Uskok arresting Zagreb entrepreneurs and associates of former mayor Milan Bandić

The Office of Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Wednesday that a preliminary investigation by members of the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor and the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) started at the city administration offices at 6 am on Wednesday.

As TCN wrote, several people were arrested on suspicion of corruption, including the director-general of the HRT public broadcaster, Kazimir Bačić, Andrea Šulentić, and Ana Stavljenić-Rukavina. Both Šulentić and Rukavina were directors in Zagreb administration offices and close associates of former mayor Milan bandić. At the same time, details Bandić's heavy corruption (suspected and known publicly earlier) came to light.


© Goran Stanzl / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Croatia eliminated from Euro 2020 after losing to Spain

Croatia and Spain met in Copenhagen on Monday for their EURO 2020 round of 16 match. It was a decent effort from Croatia, but not enough. Despite the Spain own goal in the 20th minute, the distraction as Rebić went to change his boots saw Spain even the score. The score towards the end of regular time went to 3:1 for Spain, but Croatia managed to lower to 3:2 and finally, in the added time, Pašalić scored for 3:3.

But, the euphoria was ruined for Croatia as in extra time, Morata earned Spain 4:3, and by 103rd minute, the total and final score was 5:3 for Spain. It was one of the more intense games on Euro so far as both teams show incredible spirit and persistence. 


© Dusko Jaramaz / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Opposition parties against vaccination being required for job-keeping payments  

The Social Democratic Party (SDP) called on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday not to make vaccination a requirement for job-keeping payments, while the Most party said business owners were being blackmailed into vaccination.

As TCN reported, SDP leader Peđa Grbin elaborated his dissatisfaction via social networks.

"In Croatia, mandatory vaccination is possible, but the obligation is first established under the law on the protection of the population and then regulated and worked out under Immunisation Rules and the Mandatory Vaccination Programme. The obligation of vaccination can't be imposed in another way, notably not by linking support for entrepreneurs with vaccination," SDP president Grbin posted on Facebook.

"Most is against entrepreneurs, who are being forced into vaccination through blackmail, saving the government's mindless epidemic policy", stated the Most party on its official Twitter account. They added that Croatia was stuck with over 300,000 surplus vaccines because of poor government moves and communication omissions.


© Hrvoje Jelavic / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Dario Šarić becomes 5th Croatian basketballer in the NBA finals

Šibenik's Dario Šarić is the 5th Croatian basketball player to reach the NBA finals! As TCN wrote, Šarić became only the fifth Croatian basketball player in the NBA league finals, joining the company of Dražen Petrović, Toni Kukoč, Žan Tabak, and Ante Žižić. Šarić plays for Phoenix Suns. They topped the Los Angeles Clippers 4-2 in the NBA Western Conference Finals. Apart from basketball, Šarić also likes to enjoy sipping coffee on Šibenik cafe terraces, as portrayed in the photo. 


© Milan Sabic / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Bomb planted in Split. One person injured
In the night from Thursday to Friday, an unknown person placed an explosive device underneath a vehicle. The explosion damaged six cars, and one person required medical attention. The investigation is ongoing since Friday morning.  

To learn more about Croatia, have a look at our TC website.

For more about news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

USKOK Investigators Conducting Probe in Zagreb City Administration Offices

ZAGREB, 30 June, 2021 - The Office of Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Wednesday that a preliminary investigation by members of the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor and the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) started at the city administration offices at 6 am on Wednesday.

Tomašević said in a brief press release that the new city administration fully supported the independence of state institutions and would continue advocating the transparency of work of the city administration, all city departments, companies, institutions and the related businesses.

Media say HRT director arrested

Several people were arrested on Wednesday morning on the suspicion of corruption, including, according to media reports, the director-general of the HRT public broadcaster, Kazimir Bačić.

USKOK and police have not confirmed these reports, but media say that the suspicion of corruption refers mostly to transactions of the previous Zagreb city administration at the end of 2020 and in the first half of 2021.

Bačić was allegedly arrested over a suspicious contract he signed on behalf of HRT with the Tvornica Žarulja light bulb factory.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 18 September 2020

Plenkovic: Arrests Proof of Govt's Active Policy of Zero Tolerance to Corruption

ZAGREB, September 18, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Friday that the latest arrests in the Janaf graft affair were proof of the government's active policy of zero tolerance to corruption, regardless of names and surnames, position or party.

"It is this government's policy, my own personally and that of the HDZ, that our independent judicial bodies, the State Prosecutor's Office, USKOK, PNUSKOK and the police are independent, unbiased in their work. No one tells them what to do or not to do. That is the fundamental principle of our functioning," Plenkovic told reporters after a meeting with county prefects and mayors.


There is no "magic box", DORH and police have to do their job

It is important that everyone understands that there is no "magic box" which can help someone know what someone else is doing, he said and added that the only way, if suspicion of corruption is justified, for the State Prosecutor's office (DORH) and the police to do their job.

"This is the best proof of the active policy of zero tolerance to corruption. Regardless of someone's name and surname, position and party. There is no other way, that is the only proper way. And cases like these will act as a deterrent, that is the whole point There can never be any fatigue in the fight against corruption," underscored the prime minister.

If someone is proven guilty in legal proceedings, we expect them to answer for that, Plenkovic said and claimed that regardless of HDZ MP Drazen Barisic being arrested, the government and the parliamentary majority are stable.

Asked how was it possible for Pozega mayor Darko Puljasic to end up on HDZ's slate, even though he was indicted in January, and was stripped of parliamentary immunity yesterday, Plenkovic claimed that this was not a problem.

"That is not a problem because everything that is related to him is not related to his seat in parliament. In this case his immunity was stripped only because he became a member of parliament. As I understand it, he is looking forward to a trial so he can prove that the charges against him are not true," said Plenkovic.

Asked whether mayors that have been indicted should resign, Plenkovic said there was no need if they have only been charged.

"If it is proven, or if they cannot to conduct their duties, then there are deputies to replace them so that the city can function," he said.


Elektrocentar Petek is not a large HDZ donor 

Plenkovic denied allegations that Elektrocentar Petek, a company connected to Thursday's arrest, was a large donor to the HDZ.

"Not really. First of all, I have never heard of that company and as far as I have seen, during my term as HDZ leader, the company donated HRK 10,000 four years ago, and I checked, (Kreso Petek) isn't even a member of the HDZ,"  claimed Plenkovic.

He also dismissed speculation that the arrested Janaf CEO Dragan Kovacevic was supposed to have been replaced a year ago, and said such stories are now being made up for the sake of blackmail.

We live in a world of rumours. I've read some of the ridiculous theories by some MPs, caucuses, particularly those from the Homeland Movement and Bridge, two parties that ran in the parliamentary election so they could have the ability to blackmail, as that was the only reach of their platforms and stances, said Plenkovic.

They have turned into "frustrated blackmailers who are coming up with theories that the prime minister knew something or that someone told him something," added Plenkovic.

"All those things need to be removed, the police and DORH are doing their job independently, and they do these things secretly. If something is secret, then it is not public, then only the people dealing with that are in the know and no one else, not even the prime minister," he underscored.


Replacement of Kovacevic will be looked into

Asked whether he would replace Janaf CEO Kovacevic, Pleknovic said that he would look into the entire situation because Janaf is listed on the stock exchange and the state is not its only owner.

Asked whether a system to vet people who are to take up management positions exists, Plenkovic said there was no such system. "There is no way to notice something like this, that is simply impossible," he said.

As far as information leaks are concerned with regard to yesterday's arrests, Plenkovic said that the leaks need to be identified.

"There are three possibilities - the police, DORH or the court. Let them speak up, that would also be in the interest of their credibility," he concluded.


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Saturday, 13 June 2020

Police Arrest Six Over Hate Speech Banner

ZAGREB, June 13, 2020 - Zagreb police are investigating six persons suspected of displaying an insulting banner that incited to ethnic violence against Serb women and children.

The criminal investigation is being conducted in cooperation with the Municipal Prosecutor's Office, police said on Saturday.

Police said on Friday they arrested four persons linked to the hate speech banner displayed in the Kustosija neighborhood on Thursday.

A photo appeared on social media on Friday morning, showing several Dinamo football club supporters holding a banner which said "We will f..k Serb women and children" and the letter "u" turned into the Ustasha symbol. They also displayed flags of the HOS militia from the 1991-1995 Homeland War.

The photo was posted on social media by the Serb National Council. Prime Minister Andrej  Plenkovic condemned it on the same day and Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said police would solve any case of incitement to violence and ethnic intolerance.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Karamarko: Arrest Of My Wife "Theatre Of The Absurd"

ZAGREB, May 23, 2020 - Former HDZ leader and deputy prime minister Tomislav Karamarko said on Saturday that the accusations against his wife Ana Karamarko made by the prosecutorial authorities who are probing nine companies and 38 persons on suspicion of tax fraud are "the theatre of the absurd".

In his lengthy Facebook account on this investigation against his wife and other 37 persons believed to have committed tax evasion and other murky dealings, Karamarko said that "this theatre of the absurd" was another attempt to find anything that could incriminate him.

Karamarko criticizes the media coverage of the whole case and also wonders how come those reporters of the Jutarnji List daily arrived in front of his flat at the same when the police officers who then arrested his wife.

He also criticizes media outlets for insisting on and highlighting that one of those 38 suspects in this operation was the wife of Tomislav Karamarko.

Karamarko associated in an ironic comment that with speculations that "some elections will be held soon and I will reportedly be some sort of candidate."

He said that all those developments resembled the political showdown in 2016 when he resigned as the leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) after the Bridge party used "infantile moves" to topple down the government and accuse him of the conflict of interest and of advocating the interests of the Hungarian side in the INA-MOL case.

He went on today that he was exposed to all those attacks due to "his ideological structure and policies" which he was trying to pursue and implement.

In this context he said that he had tried to strengthen domestic production, limit the power of lobbies of importers, strengthen SMEs, create an implementable population policy, conduct lustration, and prosecute communist crime.

His wife Ana Karamarko was arrested last Wednesday as one of the suspects in an investigation into the suspected financial crime. After she was questioned by the authorities she was released in the evening that day because anti-corruption investigators did not ask that she be remanded in custody.

The investigation covers nine companies and 38 persons, one of whom has been in prison from before while six are currently beyond the reach of Croatian police.

Tomislav Pavkovic and Oliver Kolobaric are believed to have led the group suspected of conspiring for the purpose of evading taxes and customs duties, abuse of trust in business operations, and aiding and abetting the commission of those crimes.

The group, suspected of using fictitious contracts to siphon HRK 20 million from a number of companies, defrauding the state of HRK 11 million in the process, was allegedly put together by the two men.

The persons in question and their companies are suspected of charging non-existent services via fictitious invoices and tax fraud from 2017 until 2019.