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Bosnia & Herzegovina

BiH: The number of indictments in corruption cases has been halved

By 2020, the number of corruption allegations halved in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the number of verdicts was reduced by 30 per cent, according to data published by Transparency International in BiH on an interactive map tracking corruption.

As noted in the statement, the already devastating anti-corruption statistics deteriorated further in the pandemic year and mostly minor corruption cases were processed.

This is illustrated, they say, by the fact that up to 66.6 percent of corruption convictions ended in probation, lower-ranking officials in the public and private sectors were tried, and the biggest corruption scandals again remained unprocessed.

It is also troubling that the initiation of investigations and the “formation of cases” in prosecutors’ offices are increasingly being used as a means of discrediting political opponents.

Across the prosecutorial system, only the BiH Prosecution Office increased the number of indictments filed and decisions taken, which was not difficult because in 2019 they had only four indictments and one final verdict where the accused was acquitted.

In 2020, they filed 11 indictments, and only four final verdicts were handed down in their cases, of which three ended in imprisonment. According to what they announced in public, the most tempting are the two decisions against customs officers who took bribes at the Gradishka border crossing and were sentenced to one year in prison each.

Other prosecutors’ offices are largely correcting these devastating statistics by prosecuting small or medium-sized corruption, so the Special Department for Combating Corruption, Organized and Serious Forms of Economic Crime in Republika Srpska is due to follow up on cases. corruption cases, filed only six indictments last year.

According to what they posted on the website, one refers to a professor at a private faculty who took bribes, and an inspector from the Republika Srpska Tax Administration who are charged with the same crime, Transparency International in BiH said.

Cantonal prosecutors in the Federation of BiH have reduced the number of indictments by more than 50 per cent, and according to what they told the public, a good portion of them relate to corruption crimes in the private sector.

Among cases that could be considered high-level corruption across BiH, an indictment was filed last year against Federation of BiH Prime Minister Fadil Novalić and his associates in the Breathing case, and former Canton Prime Minister Una-Sana Hamdija Lipovača was again accused of paying a party bill of 5,000 BAM in public money.

Transparency notes that due to the general situation, citizens’ trust in the work of judicial institutions is declining, and since 2016, the number of criminal reports filed is steadily declining.

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