Fake Text Messages Scandal Gets Worse

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ZAGREB, November 27, 2018 – Commenting on depositions made by the suspect Franjo Varga in a scandal dubbed fake text messages, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has said that the more information comes to light, the worse it gets, and that all that requires further steps. “I expect the police, the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor (DORH) and all relevant services to fully clarify everything,” Plenković, who is the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader, told the press in parliament on Tuesday.

It seems to me worse and worse with every new piece of information coming to light, he said. All that requires further steps, he said but stopped short of specifying the steps.

Considering the fact that HDZ vice president and Parliament Deputy Speaker Milijan Brkić was mentioned in that scandal, Plenković answered the press that he did not know where Brkić was now, although he had expected to meet Brkić in parliament today.

Asked whether he should have asked Brkić to give him answers about the scandal, Plenkovic replied:”I am not the police”.

“It is important to establish the facts, what is and what is not true. We are dealing with a story in which the main activity was fabrication. If it is true that a group of people was engaged in fabrication for some time, and it is evident to be true, then it is essential that competent bodies, the police and DORH as well as USKOK (Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime), fully clarify this story.”

He went on to say that, being the head of government, he could not have all the information about investigations, and information about this scandal reached the public through some other channels.

Asked if this could be an attempt by some members of his party to topple him, Plenković said that this was about “a political game”. “In a way, everything is possible,” he said, adding that he had never felt any plot or threat.

These topics implicate some people who are on the other side of the law, there is no doubt, the prime minister said. When all the facts are established, we will see what to do next, he explained.

He said that he had discussed this scandal with Brkić when it broke out, yet since then they had not talked about that and would not. “Political responsibility is absolutely crucial and necessary. I am aware of that. Therefore I insist on the full clarification of the issue. Politically, we will also discuss this topic inside the party, when the time comes for that,” he said.

In the meantime, the USKOK anti-corruption office on Tuesday said in a press release that “it is not the source of information,” for an article in the Jutarnji List daily’s Monday edition which published sections of a deposition by former IT specialist in the interior ministry, Franjo Varga, who was arrested in the fake text messages scandal and is currently in investigative custody.

“USKOK is not the source of information that was published on 26 November 2018 in a daily paper. Furthermore, even though, in accordance with the law, the investigation is not confidential but it is also not public, USKOK considers that publishing the contents of evidence taken during an investigation, damages the progress of the criminal procedures,” USKOK said on its web site.

Varga is currently in investigative custody on suspicion of writing false correspondence between former chief state prosecutor Dinko Cvitan and a judge on the panel in the Zdravko Mamić trial before Osijek County Court, according to which Cvitan allegedly pressured the judge, prior to the delivery of a verdict, to convict one of the accused without evidence.

Apart from that, Varga compiled new fake correspondence alleging pressure on Supreme Court judges who were to decide on the defendants’ appeals. He intended to give these fake texts to Mamić to use as evidence in the appeal procedure.

Blaž Curić, a chauffeur for Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić, was later arrested on suspicion of warning Varga that he was going to be arrested for creating the false text messages.

In addition to describing his relationship with former football mogul Zdravko Mamic, in his deposition, Varga also spoke about his cooperation with former HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko, deputy leader Milijan Brkić and the former owner of the Agrokor food conglomerate, Ivica Todorić.

For more on the fake text massages scandal, click here.


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