Monday, 27 April 2020

Bošnjaković Does Not reveal Nominee for Attorney General

ZAGREB, April 27, 2020 - Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković on Monday did not say when the new Attorney General could be appointed nor whether the Croatian government had decided, having interviewed six candidates, on whom they would propose for the office to the parliament.

"We will see. We will analyse everything these days," Bošnjaković told reporters in front of Government House where a commission in charge of selecting a nominee for the position of Attorney General on Monday interviewed six candidates who had submitted their application.

Applications had been submitted by Deputy Attorney General Zlata Hrvoj Šipek, Split-Dalmatia County Deputy Prosecutor Nikša Wagner, attorneys at law Veljko Miljević, Mladen Dragičević, Marija Cvitanušić and former attorney Marko Bonifačić.

The commission included, in addition to Bošnjaković and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, also Interior Minister Davor Božinović, Finance Minister Zdravko Marić, Public Administration Minister Ivan Malenica and State Assets Minister Mario Banožić.

Until the appointment of the new Attorney General, the Attorney General's Office is being run by Deputy Attorney General Zlata Hrvoj-Šipek, tipped by the media as the new head of the State Prosecutor's Office.

"There were interesting responses. We will analyse everything in the coming days... to consider everything carefully, and then we will commence with the selection procedure," Bošnjaković told reporters.

Once the government decides on the nominee, the Croatian parliament will appoint the Attorney General for a four-year term, following a prior opinion by the Judiciary Committee.

Former Attorney General Dražen Jelenić stepped down on February 19, following revelations of his membership of a Masonic lodge.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Croatian Jurist Elected European Court of Human Rights Vice-President

ZAGREB, April 26, 2020 - Croatian jurist Ksenija Turković has been elected a Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights, the Strasbourg-based court has said on its website.

Turković will take office on May 18.

A criminal law professor at the Zagreb School of Law, Turković was elected a judge of the European Court of Human Rights in October 2012.

The number of judges of the European Court of Human Rights is equal to the number of contracting states to the European Convention on Human Rights. Judges perform their duties in an individual capacity and do not represent any country, and they are elected for a non-renewable nine-year term.

More news about Croatia and the Council of Europe can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Croatia Likely to Get New Attorney General in Two Weeks' Time

ZAGREB, April 23, 2020 - Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković said on Wednesday that the procedure of the selection of the new Attorney General could be completed in two weeks' time.

The minister told the commercial broadcaster NOVA TV last night that the government would now set up a commission tasked with interviewing the six candidates that are running for the position of Attorney General after Dražen Jelenić stepped down on February 19 following revelations of his membership of a Masonic lodge.

Applications have been submitted by Deputy Attorney General Zlata Hrvoj-Šipek, Split-Dalmatia County Deputy Prosecutor Nikša Wagner, attorneys at law Veljko Miljević, Mladen Dragičević, Marija Cvitanušić and former attorney Marko Bonifačić, the State Prosecutors Council announced on Tuesday.

The commission that will interview the candidates will consist of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and five relevant cabinet ministers.

Upon the interviews, the commission will decide on the nominee for this office, and the nomination will be sent to the parliament to vote on that proposal.

Until the appointment of the new Attorney General, the Attorney General's Office is being run by Deputy Attorney General Zlata Hrvoj-Šipek.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Father Who Threw 4 Children Off Balcony Gets 30 Years

ZAGREB, March 18, 2020 - The Zadar County Court on Wednesday sentenced Josip Rođak to 30 years' imprisonment and mandatory psychiatric treatment for the attempted murders of his four children on the island of Pag in 2019.

Rođak, 54, was given eight years for each attempted murder for a combined sentence of 30 years.

Around 6 a.m. on 28 February 2019, in a house he was renting with his wife, he took the four sleeping children out of bed and threw them one by one off a balcony, 5 m from the ground, with the intention to kill them.

Two girls and one boy were seriously injured, while another girl sustained light injuries.

More Zadar news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Parliament Dismisses Chief State Prosecutor

ZAGREB, February 28, 2020 - Parliament on Friday relieved chief state prosecutor Dražen Jelenić of duty by a majority vote, but the 2017 and 2018 reports on the work of the State Prosecutor's Office (DORH) were still given the green light, also by a majority vote.

Jelenić's dismissal was supported by 103 MPs, 2 voted against his dismissal and 1 MP abstained.

Jelenić was appointed less than two years ago and was relieved of duty after it was discovered that he failed to say that he was a member of a Masonic lodge, because of which he resigned last week.

After Jelenić was dismissed, parliament voted on DORH's report for 2017, when Dinko Cvitan was at its helm. The report was adopted with 92 MPs voting in favour, 14 against and 1 abstention.

Ahead of the vote on the 2018 DORH report, submitted by Jelenić, Social Democratic Party (SDP) MP Peđa Grbin called for a recess, claiming that DORH should be an independent institution combating crime and not be exposed to pressure by the government. However, this does not appear to be so anymore, he added.

In support of his argument, Grbin noted that the ruling majority rejected SDP's motion that the chief state prosecutor should be vetted and that the law should say which associations the chief state prosecutor cannot be a member of.

After the recess, a vote was taken on Jelenić's report on DORH for 2018, it was adopted with 67 votes in favour, 22 against and 6 abstentions.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Dismissal of Chief State Prosecutor on Parliament's Agenda Wednesday

ZAGREB, February 25, 2020 - The government's motion to relieve Dražen Jelenić of his duties as Chief State Prosecutor at his request will be on the parliament's agenda on Wednesday.

Jelenić submitted his resignation after he himself confirmed that he was a Freemason and accused doctor Nikica Gabrić of having tried to influence a preliminary investigation into three reporters who allegedly blackmailed the ophthalmologist, demanding that he give them HRK 200,000 or they would publish photographs of a ceremony of the Masonic lodge to which Gabric belongs. As soon as Jelenić made that statement, Gabrić dismissed it as false.

However, the exchange of accusations between the two and the fact that Jelenić failed to inform the government that he was a Freemason when he was nominated for the post of Chief State Prosecutor prompted the authorities and politicians to criticise Jelenić's behaviour.

After parliament dismisses Jelenić the State Prosecutorial Council will advertise a vacancy for that position and conduct the selection procedure for a new chief state attorney.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has said that the new chief state prosecutor's name would be known by mid-April.

Jelenić's deputy, Zlata Hrvoj Šipek, will be acting chief state attorney until a new one is selected.

According to legislation Jelenić could remain in the State Prosecutor’s Office (DORH) as a deputy to the chief state attorney however the opposition and some parties in the ruling coalition consider that to be contentious.

Parliament is expected to debate a total of nine bills this week and is expected to vote on about thirty bills that have been already been debated in parliament including a bill on the population census which was not put to the vote last Friday as ethnic minority MPs staged a walk-out when their amendments to the bill were not adopted.

Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Monday said that he expected an agreement with minority MPs to be reached in the next few days.

That task is being handled by Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) whip Branko Bačić and I expect that consultations will be held during the week and that we will continue ahead, Jandroković told reporters on Monday.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Chief Prosecutor Resigns Amid Criticism Over Masonic Membership

ZAGREB, February 20, 2020 - Chief State Prosecutor Dražen Jelenić, who was appointed to this post on 24 April 2018, on Wednesday sent a request to the government for his resignation, after his membership of the Masonic organisation elicited strong criticism.

Jelenić issued a press release in which he underscores that since the first day of his appointment as the chief state prosecutor he had performed his duty "with pride, unfailing commitment, professionally and in a fair manner," as well in compliance with the Croatian Constitution and laws, preserving the independence of the state prosecutorial authorities.

He also comments on the latest insinuations in connection with his membership of a masonic lodge.

"That membership of a legal association has in no way impacted the performance of my duties," Jelenić insists, adding that on the other hand, those growing insinuations have made it very difficult for him to continue performing the duty of the Chief State Prosecutor in the future.

In the current circumstances, my resignation is "the only moral and responsible solution", he says.

The topic of Jelenić's membership in a masonic lodge appeared in the media after Jelenić himself confirmed that he was a Freemason and accused doctor Nikica Gabrić of having tried to influence a preliminary investigation into three reporters who allegedly blackmailed that ophthalmologist, demanding that he give them 200,000 kuna or they would publish photographs of a ceremony of the Masonic lodge to which he (Gabrić) belongs. As soon as Jelenić made that statement, Gabrić dismissed it as false.

However, the exchange of accusations between Jelenić and Gabrić and the fact that Jelenić failed to inform the government that he was a Freemason when he had been nominated for the post of the Chief State Prosecutor prompted the authorities and politicians to criticise Jelenić's behaviour.

Earlier on Wednesday Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that if Jelenić did not step down of his own accord, the government would tomorrow put forward the proposal to the parliament for his dismissal.

President Zoran Milanović said that everyone who was a member of a Masonic association and was doing a public job or was a public official, notably in law enforcement, was unnecessarily bringing into question their objectivity and loyalty.

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković underscored that during his appointment Chief State Prosecutor Dražen Jelenić failed provide any information on his membership of Freemasonry, and added that this was a case of dual loyalty.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Justice Minister Expects Chief State Prosecutor to Resign

ZAGREB, February 19, 2020 - Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković said on Wednesday that he expected Chief State Prosecutor Dražen Jelenić to resign over his membership in a Masonic lodge, which he described as unacceptable.

"Membership in any civic association of this kind is unacceptable, regardless of the fact that it was registered in line with the law. Its activities are shrouded in mystery, as is its membership, so there are certain risks for the chief state prosecutor and others who are members of such organisations," Bošnjaković said after a session of the inner cabinet.

He confirmed to reporters having talked with Jelenić, saying that he expected him to resign.

"Whether he will do so is up to him. If he does not, the government will launch a procedure to relieve him of duty," Bošnjaković said, adding that the government wanted to close the matter swiftly.

He said that the government had not been aware of Jelenić's membership in a Masonic lodge when it appointed him.

"Had we known it, we would have made entirely different decisions. It is unacceptable to us, but I'm not saying that his decisions were influenced by his membership."

After the Nacional weekly published an article on the matter, Jelenić admitted to having joined the Masonic lodge of the Grand Orient of Croatia in 2018, but said that he did not believe his membership harmed the reputation of the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor because he had performed his duty entirely in line with the law.

He said that he was not considering resigning as Chief State Prosecutor as the Masonic lodge of which he was a member was a legally established association which advocated well-being in society.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Chief State Prosecutor Confirms Is a Freemason

ZAGREB, February 19, 2020 - Chief State Prosecutor Dražen Jelenić has confirmed he is a Freemason and said doctor Nikica Gabrić tried to influence a preliminary investigation into three reporters who allegedly blackmailed him, demanding that he give them 200,000 kuna or they would publish photographs of a ceremony of the Masonic lodge to which he belongs.

Asked by Hina to comment on an article in the Nacional weekly which said that Jelenić was a Freemason and that Vuk Radić, a reporter for the 7Dnevno weekly and one of the suspected blackmailers, was also a Freemason who attended Jelenić's initiation, meaning that he could blackmail Jelenić with public exposure, the chief state prosecutor confirmed on Tuesday that he had been a Freemason since March 2018.

He explained that in early 2018 he had been invited to join a Masonic lodge which at the time was not headed by Gabrić.

Jelenić added that after he was admitted to the Grand Orient association, he took part in one more meeting of the association, which he and several other members walked out of in October 2018, after it was taken over by Gabrić.

"The members who left the association established an association of the same kind of which I am a member. Since the end of March 2018, due to my busy schedule, I have not participated in any way in the work of the association led by Nikica Gabrić, which I left, or in the work of the newly-founded association," said Jelenić.

In a comment on the case of attempted blackmail of Gabrić, Jelenić said that he obtained information on the case from his deputy Mladen Bajić, a friend of Gabrić to whom Gabrić submitted a report on the attempted blackmail.

"For the sake of ensuring prompt action, as the report seemed to indicate the need for it, over the weekend I arranged a visit by Gabrić to the competent prosecutor's office, where I had a brief conversation with him during which he confirmed that he suspected a criminal offence, after which the competent prosecutor's office continued with its activities, accepting a formal criminal report that was submitted, and took other actions within its jurisdiction," Jelenić said in a statement.

He added that during the preliminary investigation, "for reasons known only to him", Gabrić tried to exert direct influence on him through the competent prosecutor's office.

"As I could in no way allow it for the sake of the protection of the lawfulness of the proceedings, I agreed with the competent prosecutor that no action should be taken to ban the publishing of the said weekly as there was no legal basis for it, and I asked that in this case, as in any other case, action be taken solely and exclusively based on the law, namely that the procedure to collect evidence not be expanded to include persons who were not suspected of involvement in that or any other related criminal act, and that investigative custody not be proposed if there is no legal basis for it," said Jelenić.

He said that the decision to arrest the suspects was entirely within the remit of the police, which the state prosecutor cannot and must not influence and that he did not influence the work of the competent prosecutor's office in the case, contrary to what the article in the Nacional weekly suggested.

Noting that the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor (DORH) and he did not have jurisdiction over the case, Jelenić said that all evidence collected during the investigation would be made available to the defence, and that if an indictment was issued, it would also be made available to the court and the public.

Jelenić also explained that the Masonic lodge of which he was a member was a civic association established in line with Croatian laws and that information on membership in it was a personal matter of every member, and that only members themselves were authorised to make public their membership.

"The duty for members to help one another in no way includes assistance that would be illegal nor is any act, code or rules of work of the association above the law or contrary to the law and it must not be above the law or contrary to it," he said.

DORH said that membership of the association does not put Jelenić, either personally or as the chief state prosecutor, "in any greater or different potential conflict of interest than, for example, would be the case with criminal proceedings in which suspects or victims are prosecutors as members of the organisation which he heads."

DORH also said that in his work so far and before the extortion case, Jelenić had not, either personally or as chief state prosecutor, met with members of the association as suspects or victims and that in the case at hand, he acted as he would have acted in any other criminal case.

Zagreb police last Friday arrested the editor-in-chief of the 7Dnevno weekly and Dnevno.hr portal, Marko Cigoj, his deputy Vuk Radić and director Marija Dekanić on the suspicion of attempted extortion.

According to unofficial information, in recent weeks the three blackmailed ophthalmologist Nikica Gabrić, founder and director of the Svjetlost eye clinic.

The reporters told Grabrić they would withdraw a planned series of articles on him, whose content would allegedly compromise him, in exchange for adequate compensation for their 'costs'.

In doing so, they did not demand a specific amount of money but that his clinic and interested partners pay for advertisements on a certain number of pages in the 7Dnevno weekly. The advertisements would reportedly cost around 200,000 kuna (approx. €27,000).

Gabrić reportedly refused the offer, and the series of articles in which he is called the head of a Masonic lodge was published.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Indictment Against Škaro "On Hold" Pending Decision on Evidence Admissibility

ZAGREB, February 11, 2020 - The indictment panel of the county court in Velika Gorica did not decide on Tuesday on the merits of the charge against Damir Škaro, a former member of Parliament from the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and former president of the Siget Automobile Club, who had been charged with rape and sexual harassment of an employee.

Court spokesperson Ante Željko told Hina that the indictment panel's session had been postponed following a request by the defence that all records of the examination of the victim and the witnesses should be declared inadmissible.

"The court has rejected the motion, but the defence has the right to appeal," Željko said, adding that the session of the indictment panel, which can uphold the indictment, dismiss it or return it to the prosecution for improvement, would continue after a higher court's decision on the admissibility of the evidence.

At the end of November 2019, the Velika Gorica county prosecutor's office charged Škaro with sexual harassment and rape of a female employee at the Siget Automobile Club between June and August 9 last year.

Škaro, who did not appear before the court in Velika Gorica on Tuesday, was released from detention on October 24, 2019 pending completion of the trial. He had been in detention since September due to the risk that he could tamper with witnesses or repeat the offence.

The criminal complaint was filed by a doctor after the victim told her that Škaro had sexually assaulted her on the premises of the Siget Automobile Club early in August.

Following the allegations, the HDZ Zagreb branch launched a disciplinary procedure against its former memebr of parliament, Olympic bronze medallist in boxing and former president of the Automobile Club Siget.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

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