Croatia Court Drops Indictment Against Bandic

Zagreb County Court on Friday threw out an indictment filed against Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic and his colleagues for corrupt activities, citing lack of evidence.


 

Zagreb County Court on Friday threw out an indictment filed by the Croatian Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime, USKOK, against Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic.

Bandic, alongside his associate from the city administration Ivica Lovric and the director of city company Zagreb Markets, Zdenka Palac, were indicted for illegal preferential treatment of a socially conservative NGO, “In the Name of the Family”.

According to the indictment, Bandic and his colleagues illegally helped the NGO by producing campaign material for the NGO and thus damaging the city budget by around 41,000 euro.

The court found no evidence of criminal activities and rejected the allegation that abuse of office had occurred. USKOK announced an appeal.

This indictment, initially raised by USKOK in February, was sent for alterations by the Zagreb court in March. USKOK moderated the indictment following additional investigations and filed a new indictment in June.

Bandic was arrested in October 2014 for influence peddling, abuse of office and other corrupt activities over several years. USKOK said it suspected Bandic and his associates and some private businessmen of embezzling around 20 million euro of the City of Zagreb’s money.

Along with his associates he was put in custody but then released a month later in November, after posting bail of 2 million euro.

After the court released him on bail, it banned Bandic from performing his mayoral duties until the investigation ended, fearing potential influence on witnesses in the city administration of the risk of him repeating the same crimes.

He was sent back to custody in March over allegations of trying to influence witnesses. In April, on the decision of the constitutional court, he was released from custody and three days later the Zagreb court removed the ban on him performing mayoral duties.

The investigation in this case is still ongoing.

Bandic, who has been mayor of the capital for more than 14 years, was once one of the most popular politicians in the country.

A former senior member of the governing Social Democratic Party, SDP, he ran for the presidency of Croatia against Ivo Josipovic in the 2009-10 elections, losing in the second round.

 

Sven Milekic BIRN Zagreb

July 17 2015