Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Fake Text Messages Scandal Gets Worse

ZAGREB, November 27, 2018 - Commenting on depositions made by the suspect Franjo Varga in a scandal dubbed fake text messages, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has said that the more information comes to light, the worse it gets, and that all that requires further steps. "I expect the police, the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor (DORH) and all relevant services to fully clarify everything," Plenković, who is the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader, told the press in parliament on Tuesday.

It seems to me worse and worse with every new piece of information coming to light, he said. All that requires further steps, he said but stopped short of specifying the steps.

Considering the fact that HDZ vice president and Parliament Deputy Speaker Milijan Brkić was mentioned in that scandal, Plenković answered the press that he did not know where Brkić was now, although he had expected to meet Brkić in parliament today.

Asked whether he should have asked Brkić to give him answers about the scandal, Plenkovic replied:"I am not the police".

"It is important to establish the facts, what is and what is not true. We are dealing with a story in which the main activity was fabrication. If it is true that a group of people was engaged in fabrication for some time, and it is evident to be true, then it is essential that competent bodies, the police and DORH as well as USKOK (Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime), fully clarify this story."

He went on to say that, being the head of government, he could not have all the information about investigations, and information about this scandal reached the public through some other channels.

Asked if this could be an attempt by some members of his party to topple him, Plenković said that this was about "a political game". "In a way, everything is possible," he said, adding that he had never felt any plot or threat.

These topics implicate some people who are on the other side of the law, there is no doubt, the prime minister said. When all the facts are established, we will see what to do next, he explained.

He said that he had discussed this scandal with Brkić when it broke out, yet since then they had not talked about that and would not. "Political responsibility is absolutely crucial and necessary. I am aware of that. Therefore I insist on the full clarification of the issue. Politically, we will also discuss this topic inside the party, when the time comes for that," he said.

In the meantime, the USKOK anti-corruption office on Tuesday said in a press release that "it is not the source of information," for an article in the Jutarnji List daily's Monday edition which published sections of a deposition by former IT specialist in the interior ministry, Franjo Varga, who was arrested in the fake text messages scandal and is currently in investigative custody.

"USKOK is not the source of information that was published on 26 November 2018 in a daily paper. Furthermore, even though, in accordance with the law, the investigation is not confidential but it is also not public, USKOK considers that publishing the contents of evidence taken during an investigation, damages the progress of the criminal procedures," USKOK said on its web site.

Varga is currently in investigative custody on suspicion of writing false correspondence between former chief state prosecutor Dinko Cvitan and a judge on the panel in the Zdravko Mamić trial before Osijek County Court, according to which Cvitan allegedly pressured the judge, prior to the delivery of a verdict, to convict one of the accused without evidence.

Apart from that, Varga compiled new fake correspondence alleging pressure on Supreme Court judges who were to decide on the defendants' appeals. He intended to give these fake texts to Mamić to use as evidence in the appeal procedure.

Blaž Curić, a chauffeur for Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić, was later arrested on suspicion of warning Varga that he was going to be arrested for creating the false text messages.

In addition to describing his relationship with former football mogul Zdravko Mamic, in his deposition, Varga also spoke about his cooperation with former HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko, deputy leader Milijan Brkić and the former owner of the Agrokor food conglomerate, Ivica Todorić.

For more on the fake text massages scandal, click here.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

President Talks with German Chancellor in Berlin

ZAGREB, November 14, 2018 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Tuesday during a dinner given on the occasion of an economic conference organised by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily, after which she refuted Croatian media speculation that Franjo Varga, the main suspect in a fake texts scandal, was involved in her 2014 presidential campaign.

"We talked about the position of women in politics as well as many other topics in international politics, including US President Donald Trump and his relationship with Europe," Grabar-Kitarović told Croatian reporters after the dinner during which she also talked with Prime Ministers Katrin Jakobsdottir of Iceland and Ana Brnabić of Serbia.

She announced that in her speech on Wednesday, when the economic conference ends, she would talk about the Three Seas Initiative and the need to erase differences between old and new Europe.

She said that she would not talk about the Global Compact on Migration. "I said everything there was to say about it. Now it's up to the Foreign Ministry to continue the job."

Asked about her national security advisor Vlado Galić and the text messages scandal, the president said Varga had not worked on her election campaign and that Galić told her he had been in contact with Varga twice "during the campaign when various trolls and websites which promoted hate speech appeared."

"But Varga didn't work for the campaign. No services were asked of him nor did we create any trolls. Frankly, I was too busy with the programme at the time to think about logistics. I only know that I told my associates at the start of the campaign that I wanted everything to be clean, no dirty deals. As you know, during the campaign I never condemned anyone but talked about work and performance and I never let anyone be personally attacked," Grabar-Kitarović said, adding that she would discuss this matter with Galić again.

Nacional weekly speculates in its latest issue that Varga was involved in her 2014 presidential campaign because, by his own admission, he was brought to the ruling HDZ party, which nominated Grabar-Kitarović for president, by Galić, her current advisor on defence and security.

For more on the so-called fake messages scandal, click here.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Prime Minister: Plotters Against Me Will Not Succeed

ZAGREB, October 24, 2018 - Prime Minister and HDZ party leader Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday that whoever was plotting against him would not succeed and that the "text message" scandal should be investigated fully.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Political Scandals Multiplying

ZAGREB, October 23, 2018 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović commented on Tuesday on the involvement of her national security advisor Vlado Galić in the "fake text messages" scandal, saying that she was not aware that Galić had contacted the main protagonist in the scandal, Franjo Varga, a former police IT specialist accused of making fake text messages, but she would not give any statement on Galić's behalf.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Suspects in “Fake Text Messages” Affair to Remain in Custody

ZAGREB, October 22, 2018 - The Osijek County Court has decided that former police IT specialist Franjo Varga and Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić's chauffeur Blaž Curić will stay in custody for two more months. Varga is suspected of creating fake text messages for former Dinamo football club executive Zdravko Mamić, while Curić is suspected of having tipped off Varga that he was under police investigation and was about to be arrested.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Missing Prosecution File on Elite Prostitution Reconstructed

ZAGREB, October 20, 2018 - Chief State Prosecutor Dražen Jelenić has confirmed to the media that his office has completed the reconstruction of a missing file on a 2011 case concerning information leaks from a police investigation into elite prostitution in the context of which Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) vice-president and deputy parliament speaker Milijan Brkić has been mentioned.

Friday, 19 October 2018

President Criticises Citizens for Being Preoccupied with Scandals

ZAGREB, October 19, 2018 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said on Thursday the Croatian public was too preoccupied with scandals and that her obligation was to work on improving living conditions and raising citizen's optimism.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

HDZ Deputy Leader Brkić Questioned by Prosecutors

ZAGREB, October 9, 2018 - After being interrogated at the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor over claims of leaking information from a police investigation into an elite prostitution ring in 2011, Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) deputy president and Parliament Deputy Speaker Milijan Brkić, said that it was sad to see that media outlets find him responsible for attempts to undermine that police investigation which resulted in arrests and in a court conviction.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Brkić Case Will Be Investigated, Officials Promise

ZAGREB, October 7, 2018 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Sunday that there was absolutely political will to investigate everything in the case involving Milijan Brkić, stressing that the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) had nothing to do with the case.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Opposition: Croatia Is in Mafia Hands

ZAGREB, October 5, 2018 - The president of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Davor Bernardić told reporters in parliament on Friday that "Croatia is in the hands of mafia."

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