Wednesday, 24 March 2021

MOST Starts Collecting MPs' Signatures to Dismiss Supreme Court President

ZAGREB, 24 March, 2021 - The opposition Bridge party has announced that on Thursday it starts collecting MPs' signatures to initiate the procedure for the dismissal of Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa after he was mentioned as being one of the judges allegedly bribed by convicted football mogul Zdravko Mamić.

Bridge said that the "recent events seriously undermined the reputation of and trust in the Croatian judiciary, both the reputation of individual judges and of the judiciary as a whole," and that therefore it was essential to launch the proceedings to relieve Đuro Sessa of his duties as Supreme Court President.

The party recalled that Sessa had been appointed Supreme Court President on 14 July 2017 with 84 votes in favour and 33 against and that under the Courts Act he is responsible for the work of the Supreme Court which ensures the unified application of the law and that everyone is equal before the law.

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Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Interior Minister Davor Božinović Says Zoran Mamić Being Able to Cross Border Not Logical

ZAGREB, 24 March, 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Wednesday that he did not consider it logical for former Dinamo football club coach Zoran Mamić, who was given a final verdict for corruption, to be able to cross the state border, adding that police acted in line with rules regulating the work of border police.

"The police acted the only way they could, and as to whether the court could and should have issued some order regarding Mamić, courts are the third branch of government. Personally I don't consider it logical, but that's not up to police because in this case police had no reason to act differently than they did, complying with rules that regulate the work of border police," Božinović said at a session of the national COVID-19 response team, which he heads.

Zoran Mamić on Tuesday left the country for Bosnia and Herzegovina, from where he returned to Croatia on Wednesday morning, after, as he said, he visited his brother Zdravko whom he had not seen for seven months.

"I travelled there while I still had the opportunity, until the procedure is finished," he said, adding that it was difficult for him to say if he would again travel to BiH.

In an interview with N1 Zoran Mamić noted that he had to take care of his family before starting to serve his sentence.

Even though together with his brother Zdravko he was given a final verdict for siphoning money from Dinamo, Zoran Mamić travelled to the neighbouring country without any problems because he still has not received a call from the Zagreb County Court judge in charge of the execution of prison sentences.

The Supreme Court last week upheld a ruling by the Osijek County Court sentencing Zdravko Mamić to six and a half years in prison for siphoning HRK 116 million from Dinamo. 

It reduced the prison sentence for his brother Zoran from four years and 11 months to four years and eight months, while former tax official Milan Pernar's sentence was reduced from four years and two months to three years and two months.

The Supreme Court upheld the first-instance judgement for former Dinamo director Damir Vrbanović sentencing him to three years in prison.

Zdravko Mamić, who holds dual Croatian and Bosnian citizenship, fled to Bosnia and Herzegovina in June 2018, the day before the Osijek County Court announced the verdict sentencing him to six and a half years in prison.

He has said that he is willing to serve his sentence only in Bosnia and Herzegovina while Zoran Mamić has said that he is ready to start serving his sentence as soon as possible.

The State Secretary at the Croatian Justice Ministry, Juro Martinović, said earlier that if Zdravko Mamić did not return to Croatia after his sentence became final and Bosnia and Herzegovina did not extradite him, the Justice Ministry could launch a procedure to have him serve his sentence in the neighbouring country.

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Tuesday, 23 March 2021

President Zoran Milanović Says Zlata Đurđević Continues to be His Candidate

ZAGREB, 23 March, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Tuesday commented on the Constitutional Court's decision made earlier in the day, saying in a Facebook post that rigging a competition for a post was a criminal act and that Judge Zlata Đurđević continued to be his candidate for the Supreme Court president.

"Zlata Đurđević is still my candidate and the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union), regardless of how difficult it may find it, will have to take a vote on her. For or against, and that will make everything clear," Milanović said after the Constitutional Court earlier in the day concluded by a majority vote that the President of the Republic can nominate for the post of the Supreme Court president only a candidate who has submitted an application following a public call by the State Judicial Council (DSV).

Milanović's candidate, Zagreb Law School professor Zlata Đurđević, was not among the three candidates who submitted their applications to the DSV.

Milanović also commented on statements made today by Constitutional Court President Miroslav Šeparović, alluding to media reports about his close friendship with senior HDZ member Vladimir Šeks.

"If public competitions, advertisements and public calls are possibly rigged, that is not the reason to abolish them but rather to enable the election of the best candidate through democratic control - so tells us Šeks's close friend at the Constitutional Court. And he adds that laws must be applied, I quote, 'meaningfully'," Milanović wrote on Facebook, adding "First of all, a competition and a public call are not the same. One more thing you have not learned. And rigging a competition is a criminal act. That goes for everyone, including close friends. You should have learned that."

The president described most Constitutional Court judges as the HDZ's bargaining chips whose role was to save the incumbent Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa, whom he described as "a soldier of the HDZ-run judiciary."

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Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Judiciary Committee to Call Thematic Session on Situation in Judiciary

ZAGREB, 23 March, 2021 - The parliamentary Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously supported a proposal to call a session focusing on the situation in the Croatian judiciary.

The schedule and the list of guests is to be defined by the end of the week, after which the date for the thematic session of the committee will be set, Committee chair Mišel Jakšić of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said.

He said the committee could invite Justice Minister Ivan Malenica, Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa and State Judicial Council (DSV) President Darko Milković.

"It is clear from the public perception that people do not trust the judiciary, they believe that corruption in state institutions is widespread," Jakšić said, stressing that it is necessary to start a discussion about that and put forward concrete proposals for improving the situation in the judiciary.

Jakšić said that he would not want former Dinamo football club boss Zdravko Mamić, recently sentenced to six and a half years in prison for siphoning money from the club, to be the main topic of the committee session, stressing that his case should be dealt with by judicial bodies.

As for media reports alleging former president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović's involvement in corruption, Jakšić said he expected those reports to be investigated, calling the accusations horrible and "an attack on the judiciary and the foundations of the state."

Dražen Bošnjaković (HDZ), chair of the parliamentary Committee on the Constitution and Standing Orders and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said that problems that had lately escalated required a special committee session to discuss them.

He said that he did not have information that Mamić had co-financed Grabar-Kitarović's presidential campaign, adding only that the law on the financing of political parties and political campaigns envisaged very transparent publication of all information and the opening of separate accounts to see what is being financed and who finances what.

"Zdravko Mamić can say anything he wants, but all those statements have to be checked," he said.

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Saturday, 4 January 2020

Corruptia: Ivica Todoric, Ivo Sanader and More Face Trial in 2020

Remember Ivica Todoric? Dr. Ivo Sanader? Tomislav Saucha? They haven't gone away with the arrival of 2020 and nor have the stains they and their ilk have left on Croatian society. It's all hope and glory as Croatia chairs the rotating EU presidency, marking an incredible journey from war to peace in a relatively short space of time, but you can't sweep everything under the rug...

The old saying goes that the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and that couldn't possibly be more true for some of the big (and bad) names from Croatia set to face the judge for their crimes during the course of this monumental year.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 3rd of January, 2020, while on December the 30th, 2019, a Zagreb County Court jury handed down a final verdict in the long INA-MOL affair, sentencing HDZ's Ivo Sanader to six years in prison, ex PM Ivo Sanader also spent time in Krapinske Toplice, according to a report from Ivana Jakelic for Vecernji list.

Dressed in an unassuming tracksuit and sitting on a chair, Ivo Sanader made a phone call in the hallway using a pay phone. Although the scene looked a bit retro Russia at first glance, the point is that Ivo Sanader's knee surgery recovery is taking place under the watchful eye of the long arm of the law, because he was brought from Remetinec prison for rehabilitation in Krapinske Toplice, where he is serving a sentence of six years, which was handed to him for his part in the Planinska affair.

In 2019, the judicial process with Ivo Sanader ended, and in 2020, Sanader, like many other politicians of all party colours, will continue to be a frequent guest of the Zrinjevac court. Specifically, the trial of Fimi Media, in which HDZ was indicted, should continue this month. It is a retrial because the first conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court. For Ivo Sanader, 2020 could therefore be important in a judicial sense. The Supreme Court is likely to rule on appeals to its other two judgments; in a condemnatory sense in the Hypo affair and an acquittal in the HEP-Dioki affair.

In addition, because of the Planinska affair, Ivo Sanader filed a constitutional complaint, hoping that the Constitutional Court would rule in his favour this time as well. That is, it would revoke his final conviction, as was done back in 2015 in the now somewhat infamous INA-MOL case.

Should that happen, Ivo Sanader would stand a chance of exiting Remetinec, as long as the recent INA-MOL ruling does not become final. However, since this judgment has only been rendered and its reasoning is yet to be written, the court has a three-month deadline and knowing the Supreme Court's operation, it is unlikely that the any appeals will be discussed before the end of 2020.

In addition to Ivo Sanader, in legal terms, Zagreb's mayor Milan Bandic could also find himself in some hot water indeed in 2020. The longtime mayor of Zagreb is continuing to be judged for the Agram affair, and the trial will start in January. The reason is that the existing file will be re-annexed to the part relating to the charges related to waste management in Zagreb. That part of the indictment was returned to USKOK for further processing, and once the charges become final, the file will once again become an integral part of his trial for the Agram affair.

That trial might end during the next election year, in which Bandic will enter a well-shaken up campaign made against him by the highly creative Dario Jurican. Jurican was a presidential candidate who advocates "corruption for everyone, not just for them", and in April he should present his film "Kumek", which deals with the way Bandic and his associates, many of whom will also frequent the Zrinjevac courthouse in 2020, have operated.

Needless to say, the absolute "star" on trial next year will be the notorious, once untouchable Ivica Todoric, Agrokor's tycoon, against whom an investigation into the shattering Agrokor affair should soon be completed.

After that, an indictment should be filed, so it is realistic to expect that the trial of Ivica Todoric and others charged with damaging the concern for 1.1 billion kuna could start in the autumn of 2020. In addition to the trial for the Agrokor affair, Todoric is also awaiting proceedings for the payment of fictitious services, which damaged Agrokor, which held Croatia's entire economy by a thread, by a massive one million euros.

In 2020, Nadan Vidosevic, former head of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), and Nada Cavlovic Smiljanec, former head of the Tax Administration and former SDP MP, are also likely to know their judicial fate. Their trials are nearing their final stages, so it is realistic to expect that their final verdicts could be released by summer this year.

The Zrinjevac court building will also be visited by two former ministers of culture, SDP's Andrea Zlatar Violic and HNS's Berislav Sipus, who can also expect final verdicts to be issued in 2020. The trial of Tomislav Saucha, former head of Zoran Milanovic's office, who now supports the HDZ Government of Andrej Plenkovic with his hand in Parliament, and Marina Lovric Merzel, the former SDP prefect, will also continue. The two of them can look forward to the end of their trials next year, and as things stand, most of the verdicts to the former political elite could be handed down by the end of next year.

All this is going on just in time for the current political opponents to attack each other over corruption in their campaigns for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

As for a real classic crime, the trial of Tomislav Sablja and his co-defendants, who are charged with smuggling 18 tonnes of marijuana worth 11 million euro, should start next year.

These stories are the type that will certainly intrigue the public with the judicial developments in the coming year, and just how much these complications will affect the public perception of the Croatian judiciary's (in)ability to deal with corruption and organised crime on any level whatsoever remains to be seen.

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