Friday, 22 April 2022

The State Attorney's Office Says is Looking Into Criminal Complaints Against Construction Minister

ZAGREB, 22 April (2022) - The State Attorney's Office (DORH) said on Friday it was conducting inquiries into Construction, Physical Planning and State Assets Minister Ivan Paladina and examining criminal complaints filed against him.

DORH said Paladina confirmed that complaints had been filed against him and that, after examining some of them, it decided to dismiss them.

DORH said it requested that the remaining complaints be examined.

According to the Index web portal, prosecutors are looking into Paladina's acquisition of bonds in the IGH construction company.

Paladina says nothing new in report on inquiries

Responding to DORH's press release, the minister said it contained "absolutely nothing new."

"It is already known that my former partners filed several criminal complaints against me, nearly all of which have been dismissed, as confirmed by DORH today. As far as I know, the procedure in one or two complaints is not over yet," he told Hina.

"After a criminal complaint has been filed against you, DORH must look into it," he added.

For more, check out our politics section.

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.

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

State Secretary: Citizens Need Not Fear DORH, Police Having Access to Their Accounts

ZAGREB, 20 April 2022 - State Secretary at the Finance Ministry Stjepan Čuraj said on Wednesday that citizens didn't have to be afraid of the bill which would enable DORH, customs and tax administrations and the police to have access to a registry that contains records of accounts held by business entities and citizens.

"Citizens don't have to be afraid of access to their accounts," Čuraj (HNS) told the press in the parliament, adding that the court decided on that as before.

This is, he said, about ensuring the implementation of the European directive, with complete application of personal data protection.

"It actually facilitates something all bodies in the procedure have already been entitled to," he said.

"We are not talking about any data on the account balance or transactions, but only information about the actual account holders or bank safes and authorised persons, all with the aim to facilitate investigations, possible prosecution and to prevent criminal offences," he pointed out.

The State Attorney General's Office (DORH) and the police will have access to that data, he said, but also the customs and tax administrations with the authorisation and at the request of DORH, when it comes to obtaining financial data.

He noted that the customs and tax administrations had performed financial analyses and investigations before, within their powers and on the orders of competent bodies, which they would continue to do.

The Finance Ministry has put to public consultation a bill that facilitates the use of financial information to prevent and detect criminal offences, and in addition to the Anti-Money Laundering Office, it would enable the State Attorney General's Office (DORH), customs and tax administrations and the police to have access to the registry.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Croatian Finance Ministry Proposes Bill to Prevent Money Laundering

April the 19th, 2022 - The Croatian Finance Ministry has proposed a new bill (law) in which multiple state institutions would be able to see into the bank accounts of those who hold them in the Republic of Croatia, which would come as an overstep of a boundary for many.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian Finance Ministry has submitted a legal proposal for public discussion, which would give access to the register of the bank accounts held by both companies and regular people in Croatian banks to the State Attorney's Office, Customs, Police and Tax Administration, in addition to the Office for the Prevention of Money Laundering, Jutarnji list reports.

This is a bill to facilitate the use of financial and other information for the purpose of preventing, detecting, investigating or prosecuting serious crimes, which includes the identification, monitoring and freezing of assets related to these crimes. According to the Croatian Finance Ministry, this proposal would incorporate the latest European Union (EU) Directive on the prevention of money laundering, tax evasion and other forms of financial crime into Croatian national legislation.

Something known as the Single Registry of Accounts (Croatian: Jedinstveni registar racuna/JRR) was established as a central registry of bank accounts way back in 2002 and is maintained by the Financial Agency (Fina) in this country. In addition to keeping hold of the data about the owners of various different bank accounts, it also contains data on payment accounts, savings and deposit agreements held with credit unions and more.

Since back in 2011, the aforementioned register also includes data on consumer accounts opened with banks operating here in the Republic of Croatia. The register, however, does not contain information on the balance of these bank accounts, which is important to note given the apparent invasion of privacy this may look like to many people.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Harald Kopitz Children Deaths: State Attorney's Office Files Indictment

February 23, 2022 - The State Attorney's Office has filed an indictment against Harald Kopitz, who killed his three children in Zagreb's Mlinovi last year. He faces up to 50 years in prison.

As reported by Total Croatia News, in September last year Austrian citizen Harald Kopitz was arrested by Croatian police in Zagreb for the murder of his three children. 

Harald and his wife were divorced, and she left her children to spend the weekend with their father while she was on a business trip in Dubrovnik. On the night of September 25, following a worrying Facebook status posted by Kopitz that was later reported by his contacts, Zagreb police entered Harald's apartment only to find the dead bodies of the children and their father in critical condition after attempting suicide.

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Harald Kopitz, an Austrian citizen residing in Zagreb, was arrested by the police for the alleged murder of his three children, which was later confirmed. In the Facebook status he posted, Kopitz wrote something of a farewell letter, noting that his ex-wife thwarted their current love relationship and that his job situation was not improving. In addition, he stressed that he did not receive the necessary support and that he was ''at the end''. The worrying post caught the attention of his contacts, who reported it to the police. You can read the full story here.

As Index.hr reports today, the State Attorney's Office (DORH) has filed an indictment against Harald Kopitz for the murder of his three children. The Austrian citizen faces up to 50 years in prison.

"Following an investigation, the Zagreb County State's Attorney's Office filed an indictment before the Zagreb County Court on 23 February 2022 against a citizen of the Republic of Austria (1965) for three offenses against life and limb and three aggravated murders under Article 111. items 1 and 2 in conjunction with Article 51 of the Criminal Code. 

The indictment charges the defendant that on September 24, 2021, at around 10:00 pm, in Zagreb, in the apartment where he was staying with his three minor children (2013, 2013 and 2016), with a premeditated intention to deprive the children of their lives, took advantage of the children's trust in him as a father and committed the aforementioned criminal offenses to the detriment of the children. In the indictment, the Zagreb County State's Attorney's Office requested that the defendant's pre-trial detention be extended until the end of the criminal proceedings due to the danger of recidivism and particularly serious circumstances of committing this criminal offense (Article 123, paragraph 1, items 3 and 4 of the criminal proceedings)", announced the DORH.

Let us remind you that Kopitz killed his three children in Zagreb's Mlinovi at the end of September, and then tried to kill himself. He was sentenced to pre-trial detention because of the danger of repeating the crime, so as not to influence witnesses and because of the particularly difficult circumstances of the crime he is suspected of.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

State Attorney's Office says Won't Comment on PM's Statement After Minister's Arrest

ZAGREB, 19 Feb 2022 - The State Attorney's Office (DORH) said on Saturday that it and the attorney general would not comment on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's call on DORH earlier today to inform the public about the reasons for the urgent arrest of Construction Minister Darko Horvat.

The competent state attorney's office and the USKOK anti-corruption office are taking action in line with the law, DORH said, adding that when the legal conditions have been met, the competent state attorney's office will provide the public with the relevant information.

Horvat was brought to USKOK's headquarters after 2.30 pm after he was arrested and his house was searched on suspicion of abuse of office.

If, after interrogating him, USKOK requests that he be remanded in custody, the decision will be made by a Zagreb County Court judge.

Hina has learned from sources close to the investigation that besides Horvat and Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević, the police are investigating Regional Development and EU Funds Ministry state secretary Velimir Žunac, and the director of the administration for assisted areas, Katica Mišković.

Among the suspects are also former minister Tomislav Tolušić and Horvat's former aide Ana Mandac.

According to unofficial information, the police are looking into the allocation of funds from an enterprise development programme in areas populated by national minorities.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Croatian Prime Minister Blames USKOK for Ruining Croatia's Spectacular Week

January 19th, 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Blames USKOK for Ruining Croatia's Spectacular Week

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković held an impromptu news conference following the arrest of Construction Minister Darko Horvat. The Prime Minister started the news conference by making an overview of the great week Croatia just had. He goes on to mention “major political events” such as the arrival of the USS Harry Truman aircraft carrier in Split, government inflation measures, EU Fund Absorption extension, and contract signing for the Lekenik-Sisak section of the A11 motorway.

After he used the opening few minutes to commend the work of his government this week, he finally comments on the fact that one of his Ministers was arrested for alleged abuse of authority. Prime Minister ironically thanks to the DORH (State's Attorney Office of the Republic of Croatia) for the new political event he has to handle now and continues to shortly go through the case while mentioning other politicians that are potentially involved. USKOK (Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime) is a special state attorney ofice specialised for the prosecution of corruption and organised crime who is in charge of this case. Finally, we get to the point where the Prime Minister comments on the suspicious timing and over-dramatization while blaming DORH of having a hidden agenda. He continues to blame the media of creating a dramatic atmosphere and USKOK for unauthorized leak of information related to this investigation. The whole press conference passed with Prime Minister downplaying the importance of this case and stating that the case is dealing with relatively smaller sums while making accussation torwards both the press and the State's Attorney Office.

Without going into detail regarding the alleged abuse of authority, it is very interesting to see that during a political turmoil, when one of your ministers is arrested, Croatia's Prime Minister takes the opportunity to commend the work of his government. What is more he tries to relativize the the whole case even though he states that he does not know anything more than the general public. Political spins, accusations and arguments are not something unusual for Croatia's political scene, but as always Croatian politicians never fail to amaze us. 

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

PM Calls on Prosecutors to Explain Case Implicating Minister Horvat

ZAGREB, 19 Feb 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Saturday held an impromptu news conference following the arrest of Construction Minister Darko Horvat and called on the Office of State Attorney-General (DORH) to explain the case in greater detail.

Construction Minister Darko Horvat was driven in a police car from his hometown in Međimurje to the Zagreb headquarters of the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) for further questioning on Saturday afternoon after his house in Donja Dubrava was searched by the police.

Horvat's lawyer, Vladimir Terešak, told the national HTV broadcaster that the minister had been arrested and that he would be interrogated in the USKOK main offices in Zagreb.

On Saturday morning, media outlets reported that the police were searching the flat of Minister Darko Horvat in connection with his former aide Ana Mandac implicated in the scandal dubbed wind parks where the main suspect is a former state secretary Josipa Rimac.

According to the unofficial information, the ongoing probe relates to the allocation of grants under an aid scheme for crafts and SMEs in the areas populated by ethnic minorities while Horvat served as Economy Minister.

For more, check out our politics section.

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.

Friday, 25 September 2020

Milanovic Suspects Information on JANAF Case Leaking from DORH

ZAGREB, Sept 25, 2020 - President Zoran Milanovic on Friday repeated his claim that Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic had known details about the JANAF case investigation, and he also thinks that information on the case is leaking from the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor (DORH).

Milanovic said that the prime minister had to know everything that was important and a burden on the system because otherwise, there was no one running anything, but only anonymous people hiding behind DORH's name.

"Who is DORH, who was in charge of that case? That person has a name and surname," Milanovic told reporters in Pazin, where Istria County Day is being marked.

"One person has the biggest responsibility, and that is the prime minister and he must know. And I believe that he will handle that information responsibly," he said.

He also said that Ranko Ostojic, who was interior minister at the time when Milanovic was prime minister, was not correct when he said that he had not been informing Milanovic about investigations.

"He was informing me, and he was not the only one, on all important things," he said.

Milanovic believes that DORH's autonomy means that "there is no influence on their procedures."

Suspicion that information is leaking from DORH

As for information leaking from the investigation, Milanovic said that there were only two possible sources -- police and DORH, and he suspected that DORH was leaking information to the press.

He reiterated that it was not clear to him why JANAF oil pipeline operator CEO Dragan Kovacevic had not been arrested when he had accepted a bribe and the investigation continued for 10 more months, so there was only circumstantial evidence left now.

Milanovic dismissed claims by ministers in the Plenkovic government that at the time when Milanovic was prime minister, he abolished security checks, saying that that was not true.

"I did not. That's a lie. I refused to let SOA (Security and Intelligence Agency) check my ministers, candidates for ministers, when I had to form a government. (...) I take responsibility for the government," he said.

Asked about his visits to Kovacevic's private club, Milanovic said that he thought he had not been there during the coronavirus crisis lockdown.

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