Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Arrested Osijek Judges Sent to Zagreb For USKOK Questioning

ZAGREB, 9 June, 2021 - The three judges of Osijek County Court who were arrested on suspicion of graft on Wednesday morning have been transferred to Zagreb for questioning by the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK).

According to unofficial information, the judges Darko Krušlin and Ante Kvesić were already brought to the USKOK headquarters, after which judge Zvonko Vekić and businessman Drago Tadić were expected too.

USKOK said the arrests were the result of an investigation conducted in cooperation with the police anti-corruption office (PNUSKOK) and tax authorities. The investigation was prompted by accusations made by former Dinamo football club boss Zdravko Mamić who claimed he had bribed the judges concerned to clear him of the charges of embezzlement of money from that sport club.

The State Judicial Council (DSV) previously launched disciplinary proceedings against Krušlin and Vekić, following a request to that effect by the Osijek County Court, for socialising with Mamić. Mamić fled to Bosnia and Herzegovina a few years ago before the announcement of a trial court ruling in a case in which he was charged with siphoning HRK 116 million from Dinamo.

The judges were suspended in late March pending the completion of disciplinary proceedings, and the DSV at the time also rejected a motion by Mamić's defence to be party to the proceedings.

The arrest of three judges a blow to the court

Osijek County Court president Zvonko Vrban told Hina today that the apprehension of the three judges was "a blow to the County Court in Osijek in terms of its functioning."

The court is going to make technical rearrangements, however, "the reputation of those who work in the court can now be questioned by clients".

Vrban declined to comment on the speculation that Mamić bribed the judges in cash, by paying for their travel arrangements and buying them shoes and clothes to make sure they would acquit him.

Last October, Mamić sent USKOK corruption investigators a USB stick with evidence incriminating the judges. On 16 March this year, after the Supreme Court upheld the trial court sentence against him of six and a half years in prison, Mamić held a press conference in the southern Bosnia and Herzegovina city of Mostar, accusing Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa and judges Vekić and Krušlin of corruption and bribe taking, and calling Osijek County Court president Vrban "a criminal who will be dismissed sooner or later."

Mamić claimed that he had paid Vekić over €500,000, which he was to split with Krušlin and Kvesić.

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

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

President Zoran Milanović Says HDZ Should Exempt Itself From Vote on Zlata Đurđević

ZAGREB, 11 May, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović has said that his candidate for Supreme Court President Zlata Đurđević's programme is not the reason to reject her candidacy and that the HDZ should exempt itself from voting on her appointment as the party is in a conflict of interest, having been convicted of corruption.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Milanović said that nobody had read Đurđević's programme and that it was more serious than anything Plenković had ever written but that that was not crucial for her appointment.

Plenković will come up with another reason (to reject her) tomorrow, he said.

Plenković said on Monday that Đurđević would not be backed by the ruling majority also due to her "populist political programme."

The premier said that the programme was designed to restore the system of election of judges as existed at the time when politicians appointed judges, recalling that she had failed to apply to the first public call for the position.

Milanović said today that he expected the Supreme Court President to be strict, have high criteria and, if necessary, launch disciplinary proceedings.

If a "completely inexperienced" politician like Plenković could have become "such a brilliant prime minister", then Ms Đurđević can do a job that is still less complicated than that of a prime minister, said Milanović.

The HDZ should exempt itself from the vote on the Supreme Court President because the party has a case pending before the Supreme Court, he noted.

To the extent the Supreme Court President will have minimum influence on the case, the HDZ is in a conflict of interest, he added.

Milanović also said that Plenković had started entertaining plans to have him replaced.

Plenković said yesterday that he received a report from Albania, where "Milanović's friend (PM Edi) Rama" was initiating a no-confidence vote in President Ilir Meta for interfering in elections and inciting to hate speech and violence.

"He is talking about the Albanian no-confidence vote instead of phoning Rama and congratulating him, like most European leaders. By the way, the Albanian president was elected by the parliament, and I was elected by Croatian voters," Milanović said, adding: "He should take care that that does not happen to him."

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

HDZ Mayoral Candidate in Zagreb Davor Filipović: Fighting Corruption Top Priority

ZAGREB, 28 April, 2021 - The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) mayoral candidate in Zagreb, Davor Filipović, on Wednesday presented his election agenda, and said that fighting corruption was a top priority in the document.

"We are going to introduce the ISO 37001 anti-corruption standard, following the model set by the City of Prague, and it refers to the corporate responsibility, control mechanisms and action plans when there is suspicion of cases of corruption in the City of Zagreb or in any city institutions," said Filipović pledging to create an anti-corruption atmosphere in the capital city.

He also said that one of the priorities would be the fast and efficient post-quake reconstruction of the city and recalled that €683.7 million is available for this purpose through the EU Solidarity Fund.

The HDZ mayoral candidate promised free-of-charge services in pre-school day-care institutions for all the children in the city.

Filipović promised the closing of the Jakuševac waste landfill, the construction of a centre for waste management, and the modernisation of public transport vehicles, as well as the construction of the Jarunski Most bridge and a new stadium in Maksimir.

Filipović's agenda also envisages the establishment of a Homeland War Museum and a centre for war veterans in the city.

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

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: At The Moment I Don't See That Gabrijela Žalac is Guilty of Anything

ZAGREB, 27 April, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday that at the moment he did not see that former minister Gabrijela Žalac, an official of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), is guilty of anything after the USKOK anti-corruption office expanded its investigation in the windpark scandal.

"I read the press release for my information. Our judicial bodies are independent. You are aware of our position - we have zero tolerance to corruption. I don't what is behind that and I cannot deduct from the press release what exactly it has to do with," Plenković told reporters during a visit to Split-Dalmatia County.

I don't have any information about what USKOK and the State Prosecutor (DORH) are doing.

What he does know is that the loan in question was approved, as far as he is aware, in accordance with the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR) rules.

"We have to see here what this is about exactly. At the moment I don't know nor do I have any detailed information of what USKOK or DORH are working on. She is a member of the HDZ. At the moment I don't see that she is guilty of anything," said Plenković.

He claimed that he saw Žalac about a month ago but they did not discuss the windpark case.

"She will deal with this situation on her own and as far as our relationship is concerned, it is as it was in any case," underscored Plenković.

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

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Nikola Grmoja (Most Party): "PM Andrej Plenković is the main sponsor of corruption in Croatia"

ZAGREB, 27 April, 2021 - MOST Party Member of Parliament Nikola Grmoja on Tuesday commented on the latest developments in the wind park scandal, saying that even though he is trying to avoid it, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković is the main sponsor of corruption in Croatia.

He appointed ministers Gabrijela Žalac and Marija Vučković, he appointed Minister Tomislav Ćorić and all those who are directly or indirectly connected to the wind park scandal and now he is acting as if he didn't know anything, Grmoja told the press in Parliament House.

We saw that former minister Žalac lobbied for loans to be approved in that scandal, said Grmoja, recalling that while MOST Party was in government, that project did not get the green light because it lacked the necessary environmental impact study, and that as soon as MOST Party was ousted, Minister Ćorić approved the project.

Responding to a reporter's comment that even after the scandal was uncovered, many of its participants kept their positions, Grmoja said that the "mafia doesn't forget its members."

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

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Health Minister Beroš: "Problems Aren't Solved By Minister Stepping Down"

ZAGREB, 21 April, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš on Wednesday commented on an opposition motion for his resignation, saying he is not interested in keeping his ministerial position at any cost and that current problems in healthcare will not be solved with his departure but require a broad political consensus of all.

"It is the opposition's political position to question and criticise. I have never had any problems with constructive criticism, in fact, I consider it motivating. However, I have a problem with unfounded accusations and insinuations that have conveniently intensified ahead of the local election," Beroš said in a Facebook post.

The opposition, he added, has unusually focused on the health sector and him personally, who have been fighting against the COVID-19 epidemic for more than a year now.

"I cannot accept that because for more than a year now we have been intensively combatting the COVID-19 epidemic which cannot be compared to any other previous challenge. I am not looking for an excuse, I am just describing the current situation during which activities are simultaneously  being conducted towards restructuring the system to make it sustainable in the long run. The opposition's manoeuvres take us away from that aim and I wonder just how ready it is to support real changes in the healthcare system so that it can be better for all Croatian citizens," said Beroš.

He noted that the opposition had an opportunity to resolve the existing problems but that did not happen. "In fact, with its inactivity it contributed to deepening the existing problems. I'm not interested in keeping my minister's 'seat' at any cost, however, I do not have the habit of leaving an unfinished job. The problems in healthcare cannot be resolved with the health minister's resignation but through a national consensus of all political options," concluded Beroš.

Opposition parties in parliament on Wednesday unanimously agreed that Beroš has to go and they expressed readiness to support the Social Democratic Party's (SDP) motion for a vote of no confidence in the minister. The opposition said that the motion will be launched soon but that it will allow Beroš some time to think about everything that has happened in healthcare and give him an opportunity to step down.

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

 

Friday, 16 April 2021

MOST Party: Corruption Scandals Under Guise of Fight Against COVID

OSTZAGREB, 16 April, 2021 - Member of Parliament Zvonimir Troskot of the MOST party on Friday said that huge corruption risks and scandals are hiding under the guise of fight against COVID-19, warning of a new scandal regarding the Cijepise (Get vaccinated) application.

Yet another scandal is about to break regarding the Cijepise application whose design was awarded in a non-transparent way to a good friend of Health Minister Vili Beroš's, with details of the deal having been hidden for months, Troskot told a press conference in Parliament House.

"Huge corruption risks and scandals are being hidden under the guise of fighting against COVID," he said, recalling that MOST had requested that the procurement procedure for medical equipment should not be confidential.

There is an evident model where procurement is being segmented so it does not exceed the threshold of HRK 200,000 in order to avoid a public procurement procedure, said Troskot.

The Cijepise application is very important and should be helping citizens to get vaccinated yet instead people are being inoculated out of line, he said.

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

 

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

PM Andrej Plenković Says Who Plans to be Supreme Court President Must Respect Law

ZAGREB, 7 April, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday that someone who planned to be president of the Supreme Court was expected to respect the law, which "is the prerequisite of every reform."

He was responding during Question Time to MP Arsen Bauk of the opposition Social Democratic Party, who said Plenković was preventing changes in the judiciary, that Croatia was the least vaccinated EU member state, that COVID-19 measures were being applied selectively and that there was no reconstruction after last year's earthquakes.

Plenković accused the SDP "and the whole left" of trying to create an "awful" atmosphere as if tomorrow there would be no wages, electricity or gas.

He said Croatia ordered 8.7 million vaccine doses and that people would be vaccinated, but that the government could not be responsible if a big drugs company had problems with its vaccine, production and distribution. "Other countries are in this situation too."

Bauk said Plenković did not refute any of his claims and that citizens believed the president more in his row with the prime minister over the election of the new Supreme Court president.

Bauk concurred with other opposition MPs' criticisms of the ruling HDZ's policies and their rejection of the possibility that Plenković's party could transform itself.

He said the HDZ's "core won't change, it's always more or less the same" and that "the HDZ has always functioned on doctrines of (...) sustainable nationalism and clientelism."

SDP MP says minister tried to bribe her

SDP MP Mirela Ahmetović said that "one of your ministers (...) personally offered me a bribe to keep quiet about all the illegal and negative things" about the LNG project off Krk island, and that as a result of the project the gas price for households went up 80% on 1 April.

Plenković accused her of having boycotted the project "dreamed of for 40 years", saying it would reduce the price of gas and that this benefitted Ahmetović as head of Omišalj Municipality.

He also dismissed claims by Marijana Puljak (Centre) that he was protecting Vice Mihanović, the HDZ's candidate for mayor of Split who is under suspicion of having plagiarised a scientific paper.

He said Mihanović had a doctorate and that it was up to the relevant commissions to decide on his doctoral dissertation, adding that Ivica Puljak, Marijana Puljak's husband, would certainly lose to Mihanović in the Split mayoral race.

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

Friday, 26 March 2021

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković Expects Authorities to Look Into Mamić's Accusations

ZAGREB, 26 March (Hina) - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Friday he expected all the accusations levelled by convicted former Dinamo football club boss Zdravko Mamić against Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa and other judges to be investigated by the competent authorities.

"As for the accusations, I have no knowledge of them, but I expect the competent authorities to get to the bottom of them," Jandroković told a press conference after a meeting of the Parliament Presidency.

If the allegations of violation of the law, preferential treatment and bribery are proved, the people in question should be punished, he added.

Jandroković admitted that he was concerned that some of the judges confirmed what Mamić said. "That raises concerns and citizens must certainly be concerned about that segment of the judiciary."

Speaking of the possibility of Sisak-Moslavina County prefect Ivo Žinić running in the forthcoming local elections, Jandroković said that the HDZ's candidate there was Ivan Celjak. "When an HDZ member goes against the HDZ, he can no longer be an HDZ member," he said.

The Croatian Parliament wrapped up its session on Friday. MPs will be on a recess until 7 April when they return to the parliamentary benches. Parliament will then be sitting until 15 July, with a break between 7 and 19 May for local elections.

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

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Justice Minister Ivan Malenica: "Sorting Out Situation in Judiciary is in Everybody's Interest"

ZAGREB, 24 March, 2021 - Justice Minister Ivan Malenica said on Wednesday that it was in everybody's interest to have the situation in the judicial system sorted out as soon as possible.

Also, if the accusations made by convicted former Dinamo football club boss Zdravko Mamić against some judges prove to be well-founded, necessary proceedings should be expedited, Malenica told the RTL broadcaster on Wednesday evening.

Considering this case, Malenica said that the depositions of the judges concerned had been submitted and would be forwarded to the relevant bodies, including the DORH and USKOK prosecutorial authorities.

Furthermore, the State Judicial Council is expected to decide on disciplinary measures against the judges from Osijek County Court next week, he added.

Considering Zdravko Mamić's accusations against the Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa, Malenica said that Sessa had stated that his last contact with Mamić was some 15 years ago.

He added that there were currently no indications hinting at the possibility of launching proceedings against Sessa.

Malenica announced that an inspection would be conducted at Osijek County Court following the latest developments.

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

 

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