Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Supreme Court: Sessa Replaced By Deputy President Mrčela, No Constitutional Crisis

ZAGREB, 20 July, 2021 - The Supreme Court said on Tuesday that the term of office of Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa had expired and he would be replaced by Deputy President Marin Mrčela, adding there is no constitutional crisis and that judges continue to exercise the judicial power as determined by the Constitution and law.

"Until the new president is elected, the affairs of the court administration will be performed by the deputy president, whose powers are determined by the law adopted by the Croatian parliament. There is democratic legitimacy because the law was adopted by democratically elected representatives," the press release said.

The length of court proceedings is the biggest problem, it was underscored, so further action will be taken in terms of court administration to continue reducing the number of cases and resolving them more quickly.

"There is no constitutional crisis. Judges did not 'produce' this situation nor do they want to be part of daily political confrontations," the Supreme Court said.

Sessa was Supreme Court President since 20 July 2017. He also applied for a new term in office in the first public call issued by the State Judicial Council this year, but President Zoran Milanović did not recommend him or anyone else who applied to the parliament.

The State Judicial Council issued the second public call after the Supreme Court had concluded that the president could only nominate a candidate who applied to the public call. Sessa did not apply, saying that President Milanović, who recommended Zlata Đurđević for Supreme Court President, clearly did not want to recommend him to the parliament for that position.

On 7 July, the State Judicial Council issued the third public call for the appointment of a new Supreme Court President, and Milanović said he would nominate his candidate, after Zlata Đurđević did not receive the support of a majority of MPs.

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Sunday, 27 June 2021

State Judicial Council to Decide on Third Call for Supreme Court Chief on Wednesday

ZAGREB, 27 June, 2021 - State Judicial Council President Darko Milković has scheduled a new meeting of the State Judicial Council for Wednesday to decide on a third public call for the appointment of a new Supreme Court President.

"The State Judicial Council is due to issue a third public call and we hope that it will be third time lucky. All interested parties will be able to apply. We have a meeting scheduled for 30 June when we will decide on the new public call. Given that a deadline of 30 days had been set for the two previous calls, I think the deadline for the third one will be the same to ensure equal treatment of all interested candidates," Milković told N1 television on Sunday.

The previous procedure ended on Friday when Parliament did not support President Zoran Milanović's nomination of law professor Zlata Đurđević as the next Supreme Court President.

Milković said he did not think this would result in a constitutional crisis, given that the term of the present Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa expires in mid-July, because the law provides that when the new President is not appointed the position is filled by the Deputy President of the Supreme Court, in this case Marin Mrčela.

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Monday, 17 May 2021

Local Elections Held in Calm and Democratic Atmosphere, Says DIP Head

May 17, 2021 - State Electoral Commission (DIP) head Đuro Sessa on Monday said that he was pleased with the way Sunday's local elections were held for the legislatures and heads of the 576 various government units, underscoring that the local polls were held in a calm and democratic atmosphere.

"We can be satisfied that the elections passed calmly, in an orderly manner, and a democratic atmosphere," Sessa told a press conference.

He said that he was especially pleased with how the elections had proceeded in the earthquake-hit Sisak-Moslavina County. 

Run-off for 14 county prefects, Zagreb mayor

Sessa announced that the second round of the election is scheduled for 30 May, when voters will elect county prefects in 14 counties, the new mayor of Zagreb, and 55 mayors in cities and 87 municipalities.

There will be two candidates on each ballot slip, with the candidate who won the most votes in the first round being listed first.

The candidate who wins the most votes in the runoff will be declared the winner, he underscored. Should the two candidates get the same number of votes, the election would have to be repeated in that constituency, he explained.

Elections will be repeated at 18 polling stations in the country on 23 May due to irregularities during Sunday's voting and at one polling station on 30 May due to technical problems at yesterday's election.

If necessary, the additional elections for some designated seats for ethnic minorities will be held in the autumn.

Sessa underscored that, on the most part, the elections were held in an orderly manner, and only some minor incidents were reported.

He confirmed that some breaches of the ban on electioneering had occurred mostly in social networks, which cannot be controlled, but they cannot be assessed as having affected the election outcome.

He added that it is up to the local electoral commission now to investigate breaches and whether legal proceedings are necessary.

Sessa underscored that any possible complaints related to the election could be submitted until 7 pm on Monday.

Deadlines for financial statements

DIP vice president Vesna Fabijančić-Križanić recalled that candidates whose election ended in the first round are obliged to submit their financial statements by midnight 16 June.

Participants in the second round of the election have until Saturday, 22 May, to submit interim financial statements of their costs, donations, and discounts for media advertising.

Their final financial statements are due by 29 June.

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Friday, 30 April 2021

Over 38,000 Candidates To Run in Croatia's Local Elections

ZAGREB, 30 April, 2021 - More than 38,000 candidates have submitted their nominations for executive and representative positions in the 16 May local elections, State Electoral Commission (DIP) president Đuro Sessa told a press conference on Friday.

Sessa reported on the number of submitted slates and nominations as the filing deadline expired at midnight.

There are 7,104 candidates on the slates for county assemblies, including the City of Zagreb, which has the status of a county, and 28,867 candidates on the slates for city and municipal councils.

A total of 225 people are running for county prefects and their deputies, including the candidates for Zagreb mayor and deputy mayor, and 1,901 candidates are in the race for municipal heads and mayors, including their deputies.

Eleven candidates running for mayors of Split and Rijeka

In Split and Rijeka there are 11 mayoral candidates, ten candidates are running for Zagreb mayor and seven for Osijek mayor.

After local electoral commissions announce valid nominations, electioneering will officially start in counties, cities and municipalities, and will last until midnight on 14 May, when a two-day electioneering ban starts.

The Saturday before the elections and the election Sunday are days of election silence, and the same rule will apply in the second round of the vote, to be held on 30 May.

There will be 6,572 polling stations, and each polling committee will have ten members, Sessa said.

Twenty-five tents to be set up for elections in earthquake-struck Banovina

The conduct of local elections has also been ensured in the earthquake-hit area.

Twenty-five tents will be set up the day before the elections in places where it is not possible to have polling stations inside buildings, said Sessa, adding that there will be eight tents in Glina, seven in Petrinja, four in Sisak, and three each in Donji Kukuruzari and Majur.

He called on voters to adhere to epidemiological measures.

He also confirmed that voters from the Banovina region who had moved away after the earthquake would not be able to cast their vote in another location, adding that he understands their problem but that it is not legally possible to conduct the elections differently.

There will be 14 million ballots in the elections and the organisation would be too difficult logistically, he said.

He recalled that all participants would have to enter their reports on advertising spending in a special IT system, which is a novelty in these elections. They will have to do that seven days before the elections and 30 days after them, Sessa said, noting that all data on finances will be released in one place, DIP's website.

Infected persons and those in self-isolation to vote under same conditions as in July

Persons in self-isolation and those infected with coronavirus will vote in the same way they did in July in the parliamentary elections. Polling committee members will come to their homes, and those infected will be able to cast their vote with the help of another person to avoid contact between polling committee members and an infected person, the DIP president said.

DIP spokesman Slaven Hojski said the election results would be released on election day starting from 9 p.m. and would be updated every 15 minutes.

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Wednesday, 31 March 2021

The State Judicial Council Issues New Public Call For Applications For Supreme Court President

ZAGREB, 31 March (Hina) - The State Judicial Council (DSV) on Wednesday issued a new public call for applications for the post of Supreme Court President.

All interested candidates are required to submit their applications over the next 30 days, DSV president Darko Milković said.

President Zoran Milanović informed the DSV in a letter last week that he would not propose any of the candidates from the previous call and called for the repetition of the procedure. He said he had no intention of influencing the procedure but wanted to help improve the functioning of the judicial branch of government and ensure the functioning of the State Electoral Commission after the expiry of the term of the current Supreme Court President.

The incumbent Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa, whose term expires in July, and attorneys-at-law Šime Savić and Lidija Horvat responded to the first public call. Horvat has in the meantime withdrawn her application.

Insisting on his constitutional right to propose a candidate, Milanović proposed Professor Zlata Đurđević as his candidate for Supreme Court President, but Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković refused to include his proposal on Parliament's agenda, saying that it was unlawful. Milanović claimed that lawmakers would have to vote on his candidate anyway.

Last week, the Constitutional Court ruled that the President of the Republic can only propose a candidate who has responded to a public call issued by the DSV. The court said that this does not restrict the constitutional right of the President of the Republic to propose his candidate for Supreme Court President.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that Đurđević, although a criminal law professor, had agreed to be part of an unlawful procedure and could therefore not lead the highest judicial authority in the country. Parliamentary right-wing opposition parties also announced that they would not support Đurđević.

Đurđević confirmed last Thursday that she would not give up on her candidacy and would respond to a new DSV call. Sessa has announced that he will not run for another term because he does not have the President's support.

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Thursday, 25 March 2021

State Judicial Council Soon to Advertise Public Call For Supreme Court President

ZAGREB, 25 March, 2021 - State Judicial Council (DSV) head Darko Milković on Thursday confirmed receipt of a notification from the Office of the President, announcing that a new public call for the post of Supreme Court President would be advertised in a couple of days and that interested candidates would be invited to apply.

In an interview with the N1 broadcaster, Milković said that only the head of state could request a new public call or it could be done by their office on their behalf and that that could not be done "by Parliament or an individual MP."

President Milanović earlier in the day called on the 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 applicants following a previous public call.

His office stressed 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 wanted, "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.

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.

Milanović insists that proposing a candidate for the Supreme Court President is his constitutional right and he has proposed Zagreb law professor Zlata Đurđević for that post. However, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković has refused to put his motion on Parliament's agenda as unlawful.

Milanović has said that members of Parliament will nonetheless have to vote on his nominee.

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday concluded that the head of state can propose only a candidate who has submitted an application following a public call by the DSV and it claims that this does not restrict the President's constitutional right to propose a candidate and Parliament's right to elect them.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday that even though she was a law professor, Đurđević had agreed to be part of an unlawful procedure and that therefore she could not lead the highest judicial body.

"A person who does not respect the legal order cannot be the President of the Supreme Court because that body protects the legal order, the Constitution, international treaties, all laws," he said.

Đurđević confirmed on Thursday that she did not plan to give up on her candidacy and that she would submit an application following a new public call by the DSV.

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Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Minister Ivan Malenica Expects State Attorney to Investigate Football Mogul Zdravko Mamić's Judge Bribe Claims

ZAGREB, 17 March, 2021 - Minister of Justice and Public Administration Ivan Malenica said on Wednesday that he expects the State Attorney to urgently investigate claims made by football mogul Zdravko Mamić who has accused Supreme Court Chief Justice Đuro Sessa and Osijek County Court judges of corruption.

"I trust that the competent bodies will urgently check Mr Mamić's claims and the content of the (USB) stick which I am not familiar with at the moment, and that they will quickly determine whether the accusations, which I consider grave and serious, are founded," said Malenica, adding that Mamić said that he had given a USB stick with the material to the competent bodies.

Malenica told reporters that that case was now with the State Attorney, who had received the material and would now check it to determine if the claims were authentic after which certain procedures would be launched accordingly.

Asked whether it would be appropriate for the county court judges and chief justice whom Mamić mentioned to be temporarily suspended until the investigation was completed, considering the gravity of the accusations, Malenica said that that was up to the State Judicial Council.

"The accusations are grave, but if we were to react to all the accusations against individual judges and suspend them, I don't know where we would be," said Malenica.

Asked whether the reaction was sufficiently prompt considering the fact that Mamić sent the USB stick last October, Malenica said that he was not familiar with the content of the documents and what sort of reaction they required from the competent bodies that need to determine their authenticity based on defined procedures before any conclusion can be released. He said that the question was for the State Attorney's Office to say how fast it should have, could have or would have to react.

"I cannot say if there is anything contentious, however, I do expect the State Attorney to react as soon as possible if there are any grounds based on those claims to launch certain proceedings, and that will certainly reflect on the status of those judges," said Malenica.

He believes that Supreme Court Chief Justice Đuro Sessa and the other judges Mamić mentioned, need to react to Mamić's claims. "I expect Sessa, as does the entire public, to react to the allegations but I think this isn't the first time Mamić has mentioned Sessa," said Malenica.

Malenica added that he can't say whether this will affect Sessa's chances of being re-elected as Supreme Court Chief Justice but he believes that accusations against him are grave and serious.

After the Supreme Court upheld a first instance ruling sentencing Mamić to six and a half years in prison, during a press conference in Mostar yesterday, Mamić accused Sessa and Osijek County Court Judges Zvonko Vekić and Darko Krušlin of corruption while calling the chief justice of that court, Judge Zvonko Vrban, a criminal.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that Sessa had no intention of reacting to the "absurd and untrue claims," whereas the USKOK anti-corruption office said that "Zdravko Mamić had sent his statement on a (USB) stick to the State Attorney on 8 October last year and as soon as the stick was received, USKOK began investigating its content and the investigation is still ongoing."

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