Croatia: Police arrest judges

Three judges in the northern Croatian town of Osijek were arrested on Wednesday for corruption on charges by football club head Dinamo Zdravko Mamic.

According to media reports, the arrests of three Osijek judges confirmed the anti-corruption team and police, without revealing the identities of the suspects. The first information says that the police have arrested Darko Krušli, Zvonko Vekić and Ante Kvesić and the businessman Osijek Drago Tadić.

The USKOK anti-corruption office said the arrests were the result of an investigation conducted in co-operation with the anti-corruption police office (PNUSKOK) and tax authorities. Police said several people were under investigation on suspicion of abuse of office.

The State Judicial Council (DSV) had previously initiated disciplinary proceedings against Krušlin and Vekić, following a request for this purpose from the Osijek District Court for escorting Mamić, who fled to Bosnia and Herzegovina a few years ago before being notified of a – the final decision in a case in which he was accused of siphoning 116 million HRK by Dinamo.

The judges were suspended in late March pending the completion of disciplinary proceedings, and the DSV at the time also rejected a proposal by Mamić’s defense to be a party to the proceedings.

Croatian Minister of Justice and Administration Ivan Malenica said he was untouchable.

“The arrest of judges certainly casts a bad shadow on the Croatian judiciary, but they also show that there is no inviolability and that everyone should be held accountable for the crimes they commit,” Malenica said. He added that the arrests were the result of investigations undertaken by USKOK, which showed that USKOK did its job even though it was criticized.

Malenica noted that the Ministry of Justice and Administration has been working on an anti-corruption package in recent months in co-operation with the Security Intelligence Agency (SOA), which aims to amend the law on security controls, which will was made for judges every five years. If the need arises, the judges would be checked ahead of time.

Last October, Mamić sent USKOK investigators a USB with evidence incriminating judges. On March 16 this year, after the Supreme Court upheld the court sentence against him of six and a half years in prison, Mamić held a press conference in the town of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, accusing Supreme Court President Đuro Sessa and Judges Vekić and Krušlin for corruption and bribery and calling District Court President Osijek Zvonko Vrban “a criminal who will be fired sooner or later”.

Mamić claimed that Vekić was extorting money from him, asking him to be appointed President of the District Court in Osijek and that he had paid Vekić over € 500,000, which he would share with Krušli and Kvesić.

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