Assistant Justice Minister to Resign After Just Six Days in Office

Total Croatia News

Mijo Crnoja gets competition.

The newly-appointed Assistant Minister of Justice for the prison system Slavko Kovačević has offered to resign, and Minister Ante Šprlje will accept his resignation, according to unofficial sources from the Ministry of Justice. The resignation will be accepted as soon as Kovačević returns from Brussels where he travelled yesterday. The Ministry claims it did not know about allegations against Kovačević, reports Jutarnji List on March 11, 2016.

Slavko Kovačević, the head of security in the Pula prison, was appointed as assistant justice minister at the government session held on 4 March. He was supposed to head the Croatian prison system. Shortly after his appointment, the media found out that Kovačević has been convicted in the past. The Pula Municipal Court confirmed there was a criminal process led against Kovačević. “According to available information, there were proceedings against Slavko Kovačević for a criminal offense of aggravated bodily harm. The proceedings were concluded on 12 June 2004”, reported the court. The court did not want to disclose information about whether Kovačević was convicted or not.

However, according to unofficial sources, then correctional officer Slavko Kovačević was sentenced in 2004 to a suspended prison sentence for physical assault on a minor person which resulted in serious bodily injury. The act was committed out of duty, and the victim was a boy from his neighbourhood whose behaviour Kovačević did not like. Kovačević hit the boy, which resulted in ruptured eardrums.

Sources close to the Pula prison claim that at the time there was another disciplinary procedure conducted against Kovačević due to “abuse of authority”, which probably means that as a correctional officer he used excessive force against prisoners.

Although a long time has passed since his conviction and he has since been legally rehabilitated, after he became a high-ranking state official, Kovačević should have known that rules do change. If a state official, particularly the head of the prison system, has been prone to violent behaviour, the public has a right to know about it. That right is more important than his personal right for legal rehabilitation.


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