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.

Thursday, 25 March 2021

President Zoran Milanović Asks State Judicial Council to Urgently Repeat Public Call for Supreme Court Head

 ZAGREB, 25 March, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Thursday called on the State Judicial Council (DSV) to urgently repeat the public call for applications for the post of Supreme Court president, informing it that he would not nominate any of the three candidates who had applied following a previous public call.

The Office of the President said that it had sent the DSV a notification informing it that Milanović would not propose for the Supreme Court president any of the candidates who had applied, and that it therefore proposed that the public call be repeated as soon as possible as "under the Constitution, the President is obliged to care for the regular and normal functioning and stability of state authority and in that context wants to ensure conditions for better and more efficient work of the judicial authorities, as well as ensure the unobstructed operation of the State Election Commission."

The office stresses that the president's proposal "is not intended to influence in any way the DSV's constitutionally and legally defined powers" but that the president wants, "in the current chaotic situation, caused by changes to the Courts Act, to contribute to the best possible and most efficient functioning of the judicial authorities as well as enable the functioning of the State Election Commission after the expiry of the term of the current Supreme Court President."

The Supreme Court president also serves as the chair of the State Election Commission.

The Office of the President proposes that the DSV repeat the public call as soon as possible and that it last no longer than 15 days, considering that one public call was already advertised.

Applications following the DSV's previous public call were submitted by Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa, whose term expires in July, and attorneys Šime Savić and Lidija Horvat, with the latter having in the meantime withdrawn her application.

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