Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Fugitive Football Mogul Zdravko Mamić Sues Croatia for Violating Right to Fair Trial

May 11, 2022 - Former Dinamo leader and fugitive football mogul Zdravko Mamić, who was sentenced to six and a half years in prison in Croatia for illegally extracting 52 million kuna from the Zagreb club, filed a lawsuit with the European Court for human rights.

Telegram finds out that the lawsuit was sent to Strasbourg, from which Mamić expects to establish that the court proceedings against him at the Osijek County Court were not fair. Instead, he sued Croatia precisely for violating the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence and illegally confiscating property from his wife. Lawyers Lidija Horvat and Sandra Markovic filed a lawsuit on his behalf with the European Court of Human Rights, reports Telegram.

Among the arguments, Mamić wants to prove the unfairness of the trial and the fact that the judges who conducted the proceedings against him are now under investigation for accepting bribes. Recently, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia rejected Mamić's lawsuit on the grounds that he had corrupted the judges himself, so he could not complain about their bias since he had not done anything against them before. In a lawsuit sent to Strasbourg, Mamić explains that seeking the disqualification of those judges would have been meaningless in the past. It says that out of six requests to disqualify judges submitted to the court in Osijek in 2020, all were rejected, and in Zagreb, for example, only one of 33 requests was accepted after an appeal to the Supreme Court. That is why Mamić maintains that this is not an effective legal remedy for him as a defendant.

He also reminds that he pointed out corruption before the final verdict and not after everything was over, as suggested by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia. Namely, Mamić submitted the famous USB stick with criminal charges against Osijek judges to USKOK on October 8, 2020, and at that time, the appeal procedure was still ongoing. The director of USKOK, Vanja Marušić, confirmed at the time that the stick had indeed arrived at USKOK. Despite everything, Mamić states that USKOK did not inform the Croatian Supreme Court about the details of the report, i.e., suspicions of corruption.

Citing further doubts about the judges' bias, Mamić said some judges had multiple roles in his case. Thus, the Osijek County Court judge, Miroslav Rožac, was also a member of the trial chamber and later an investigating judge in the case against Dejan Lovren due to suspicions of giving false testimony.

Osijek judge Ninoslav Ljubojević was also linked to Mamić, as Mamić was his son's manager, and the trial chamber eventually refused to examine him as a witness. The case of Judge Darko Kruslin, president of the Trial Chamber, who is under investigation for receiving an expensive watch from Mamić, was also cited. Can the verdict passed by the judges whose impartiality has been called into question remain in force, Mamić asks in the lawsuit against Croatia. He also points out that all these judges did not satisfy either an objective or a subjective test of impartiality. Therefore, he believes they all had to exclude themselves from his case.

He also resents the Croatian judiciary for delegating his procedure from the Zagreb court to the Osijek court. He said this made it difficult for him to prepare his defense and take part in the proceedings. He also points out that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled several times that the defendant must be allowed to comment on such decisions, but he was not allowed to do so. Namely, the delegation was formed in one day at the request of the Chief State Attorney.

Mamić considers that his removal from the Osijek County Court building several times was a violation of his right to access the court. Furthermore, he was not present at 16 sequels of the main hearing because he was immediately removed due to the noise in the courtroom, without having been warned or fined before, as he points out.

Mamić believes that he was also deprived of the right to equality of arms. Namely, the court read two thousand documents submitted by USKOK and examined over 90 USKOK witnesses, while most of the evidence was rejected. He also states that his wife's property was illegally confiscated within extended forfeiture. The lawsuit also alleges that some high-ranking state officials made statements about him, prejudging his guilt, which, he believes, violated his right to the presumption of innocence. 

To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Sunday, 25 July 2021

Zdravko Mamic Explains Why He Settled 52 Million Kuna Debt to State

July the 24th, 2021 - Dinamo Zagreb's former main man and undoubtedly one of the most controversial characters from Croatia, Zdravko Mamic, has spoken out about why he decided to settle his 52 million kuna debt with the Croatian state.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, after ex-football tycoon Zdravko Mamic decided to pay 52 million kuna to the state, which was obliged to do by the final verdict of the Osijek County Court for withdrawing money from Dinamo, he posted on Facebook on Thursday evening to explain a few things in his own words.

We're transmitting Zdravko Mamic's social media announcement translated into English:

"Never in history has such a heartless witch hunt been mounted against a man who brought billions of kuna to Croatian sport from abroad.

Never in history has one person been set up so that a man be sent to jail and convicted in a hotbed of crime, in a place where the only laws are racketeering, theft and blackmail.

Never before have a bunch of criminals, politicians and the media ever banded together to destroy one person and his family.

Never in history has a man been convicted about whom all prosecution witnesses, legal authorities and the injured party themselves claim was innocent.

Never in history has a man been convicted for lifting a football club up to the skies from the ninth round of hell.

After dedicating my life to building up Croatian sport, Dinamo and the national team, as evidenced by their results, I silently sacrificed the existence of my family and asked the woman of my life to pay 52 million kuna into the Croatian state budget. I did so on the basis of a verdict handed down by the servants of evil, by lovers of cash, by the suckers of state money, by drunkards, wretches and exploiters, whose abode will forever remain between prison and the pillar of shame, though I had every right to not do so.

I was convicted by criminals for an act I didn't commit. I've decided to pay into the Croatian state budget an amount that is more than a quarter of the sport budget of an EU member state of four million people. One single man has therefore paid as much as one million taxpayers. More than one thousand Croatian companies in a year. For the next three months, Croatian sport can live on my money. Or you can build seven schools. Or maybe a hospital. Or half a stadium.

In a poor country where I and my associates created over 50 millionaires with our own hands, without whom that country would be even poorer than it is. Why, you ask? Because Zdravko Mamic was never there for the money. I'm here because of passion and love, because that's my life. And because this is my life, I will soon prevent this situation from happening again in judicial reform. I'll make the judiciary [system] transparent to protect all of you. Soon.'' stated Zdravko Mamic.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Zagreb County Court Orders Investigative Custody For Mamić Brothers

ZAGREB, 23 June, 2021 - A Zagreb County Court investigative judge decided on Wednesday that Zdravko and Zoran Mamić should be remanded in custody, which once it becomes final, will serve as the basis to request their extradition from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hina learned from the court.

The remand order was issued due to flight risk and risk of repeating the crime, Judge Krešimir Devčić told Hina.

He added that a panel of judges had upheld an appeal by the USKOK anti-corruption office against an earlier ruling which rejected the custody request. Once today's ruling becomes final it will serve as the basis for Croatia to request that the Mamić brothers be extradited to Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina pursuant to an agreement between the two countries that entered into force in 2014, Devčić explained.

On 10 June the investigative judge rejected USKOK's request to arrest the fugitive Mamić brothers because warrants for their arrest had already been issued and custody had been set in other cases against them.

Businessmen to remain in custody, judges released on bail

With regard to the other suspects in this case, the court confirmed on Monday that Osijek County Court Judge Darko Krušlin was released on bail while Judge Zvonko Vekić and Osijek businessman Drago Tadić were still behind bars.

A third suspect, Judge Ante Kvesić, had also been remanded in custody. He did not appeal against the decision and a final ruling has ordered disciplinary action against him, removing him from his judicial duties. As there was no cause to keep him detained, Kvesić was released on bail on Monday.

USKOK launched an investigation into the six suspects for giving and accepting bribes and influence peddling.

Krušlin is charged with accepting an Audemars Piguet watch in exchange for interceding for Mamić during the trial against him before the Osijek County Court.

USKOK said that in the period from April 2017 to 21 May 2019 Zdravko Mamić, at the time an indictee in several cases that also included his brother and other indictees, met with Judge Vekić in Zagreb, Osijek, Banja Luka, Široki Brijeg and Dubai. Mamić gave Vekić a total of at least €370,000 for him and the other two judges.

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

Friday, 11 June 2021

Judiciary Must Not Be Stigmatised by Actions of Individual Judges - UHS

ZAGREB, 11 June 2021 - The Association of Croatian Judges (UHS) on Friday said that it had urged to the relevant authorities to determine the facts in individual cases in which individual judges were suspected of criminal offences without any further delay.

The burden of stigma, which is currently on the entire judiciary, must no be based on a few individual situations that are presented in public as the general situation in the judiciary. 

The vast majority of judges in Croatia conduct their duties honourably and responsibly, the association concluded at a meeting in Zagreb on Friday.

Two Osijek judges, Zvonko Vekić and Ante Kvesić, were remanded in custody while their colleague Darko Krušlin was released on bail on Thursday after an investigation was launched into them following accusations made by former football mogul Zdravko Mamić, who has been convicted of siphoning money for the Dinamo football club, that he had bribed them to obtain a more "favourable ruling against him."

Concerning this case, the investigation has also been launched against the Mamić brothers, Zdravko and Zoran who are on the run in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Osijek businessman Drago Tadić.

For more news from Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated news page.

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.

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Three Judges and a Local Entrepreneur Arrested under Charges of Corruption in Croatia

9 June 2021 – Police apprehended three judges from Osijek this morning in a case seemingly involving serious corruption in Croatia.

Croatian judicial system has been a point of controversy throughout recent history. Still, it is rare that the police actually get a cause for arrest. Three judges from Osijek, Darko Kruslin, Zvonko Vekic, and Ante Kvesic, were apprehended this morning. This comes after charges brought forth by controversial football manager Zdravko Mamic.

Zdravko Mamic and his brother Zoran Mamic have their own problems with the law. They were recently found guilty of extracting 116 million Croatian Kunas from Dinamo Zagreb football club by the Croatian Supreme Court. Zoran Mamic was the acting club manager at the time. They are currently in Bosnia and Herzegovina with Croatia seemingly unable to work out extradition with the local government.

Accusations of Corruption reports Zdravko Mamic supposedly delivered a USB memory drive to USKOK (Bureau for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime) back in October. It contained evidence of various corruption acts the judges committed. He later held a press conference in which he made various accusations of racketeering, accepting bribes, and secret meetings during ongoing cases. He claimed judge Vekic asked him for help in obtaining a higher professional function and extorted €500,000 that he planned on dividing with Kruslin and Kvesic. Mamic said he paid the money in order to have the charges against him dropped. He also mentioned another €100,000 EUR being paid through Zoran Mamic and Drago Tadic – the arrested entrepreneur. On another occasion, Zdravko Mamic supposedly had given Darko Kruslin an expensive watch as a gift. Kruslin later returned the timepiece when Mamic's case went to court in Osijek.

When reading through the entire set of accusations, it becomes clear the men involved had socialised on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, these social circles that feature people holding high positions in various branches of the government and controversial entrepreneurs are nothing new in Croatia. If this case turns out to be valid, it will be an interesting precedent for the future. Having a long-time controversial figure like Zdravko Mamic putting in motion such an important corruption case is a perfect irony to cap the story off.

For more on the latest news out of Croatia, click here.


Friday, 26 March 2021

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković Expects Authorities to Look Into Mamić's Accusations

ZAGREB, 26 March (Hina) - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Friday he expected all the accusations levelled by convicted former Dinamo football club boss Zdravko Mamić against Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa and other judges to be investigated by the competent authorities.

"As for the accusations, I have no knowledge of them, but I expect the competent authorities to get to the bottom of them," Jandroković told a press conference after a meeting of the Parliament Presidency.

If the allegations of violation of the law, preferential treatment and bribery are proved, the people in question should be punished, he added.

Jandroković admitted that he was concerned that some of the judges confirmed what Mamić said. "That raises concerns and citizens must certainly be concerned about that segment of the judiciary."

Speaking of the possibility of Sisak-Moslavina County prefect Ivo Žinić running in the forthcoming local elections, Jandroković said that the HDZ's candidate there was Ivan Celjak. "When an HDZ member goes against the HDZ, he can no longer be an HDZ member," he said.

The Croatian Parliament wrapped up its session on Friday. MPs will be on a recess until 7 April when they return to the parliamentary benches. Parliament will then be sitting until 15 July, with a break between 7 and 19 May for local elections.

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

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Justice Minister Ivan Malenica: "Sorting Out Situation in Judiciary is in Everybody's Interest"

ZAGREB, 24 March, 2021 - Justice Minister Ivan Malenica said on Wednesday that it was in everybody's interest to have the situation in the judicial system sorted out as soon as possible.

Also, if the accusations made by convicted former Dinamo football club boss Zdravko Mamić against some judges prove to be well-founded, necessary proceedings should be expedited, Malenica told the RTL broadcaster on Wednesday evening.

Considering this case, Malenica said that the depositions of the judges concerned had been submitted and would be forwarded to the relevant bodies, including the DORH and USKOK prosecutorial authorities.

Furthermore, the State Judicial Council is expected to decide on disciplinary measures against the judges from Osijek County Court next week, he added.

Considering Zdravko Mamić's accusations against the Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa, Malenica said that Sessa had stated that his last contact with Mamić was some 15 years ago.

He added that there were currently no indications hinting at the possibility of launching proceedings against Sessa.

Malenica announced that an inspection would be conducted at Osijek County Court following the latest developments.

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


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.

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

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.

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

Page 1 of 11