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.

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Friday, 21 May 2021

Osijek to Get Underpass, 13 Buses in Bid to Improve Public Transport System

ZAGREB, 21 May 2021 - Agreements on EU-funded grants for the construction of an underpass and for the procurement of 13 new buses for public transportation system in Osijek were signed on Friday in that eastern Croatian city.

In attendance at the ceremony was Prime Minister Andrej Plenković who said that the 93-million-kuna underpass in S. Leopolda Bogdana Mandića Street would reduce traffic jams in that part of the city.As high as 85% of this investment will be covered by the European Union's funds while the remaining 15% will be covered by the state budget.

Also, 32 million kuna will be set aside for the procurement of 13 new buses for public transportation. The 85% of the amount is also covered by funds from the EU.

All these projects are part of our policy which we have been pursuing since 2016 as part of the "Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem" project, and we have contracted 17.7 billion kuna under that programme, Plenković said.

The outgoing mayor Ivan Vrkić said that during his two mayoral terms, HRK 1.6 billion had been invested in Osijek since Croatia joined the European Union.

(€1 = HRK 7.508080)

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Tuesday, 20 April 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: Court Should Have Ordered Precautionary Measure for Zoran Mamić

ZAGREB, 20 April, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday the Osijek County Court should have ordered a precautionary measure for former Dinamo football club coach Zoran Mamić, who went to Bosnia and Herzegovina after being sentenced in Croatia and applied for serving his prison term there.

Speaking to the press in Rijeka, Plenković said "the Justice Ministry was very clear about ordering precautionary measures for some convicts. The competent court of first instance could and should have ordered a precautionary measure given the circumstances."

"If our judiciary thinks that this option at their disposal is in any way insufficient or not clear enough and that it should be fine-tuned, they should say so. They are the ones who can decide if certain possibilities are being used in practice or not."

Plenković said trial laws were essential and delicate and that one must also look at the general interest and a defendant's rights. "In my opinion, such situations shouldn't occur."

Asked if the agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina regulating these matters should be changed because of such situations, he said, "We can change the agreement, but I'm more interested in the practice itself which, I must say, has nothing to do with the government."

"When you look at judiciary independence indicators, the election of judges, their salaries, status - we have done the utmost about that. This is a question of implementation and specific cases which must be treated in such a way to prevent situations like this."

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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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