Three other defendants were also found guilty – Silvijo Kobeščak, former president of the supervisory board of the Ceste Sisak roads company; Bernard Popec, who sold the county a building for emergency medical services above the market price, and Dalibor Rožanković, Lovrić Merzel’s nephew who laundered the money Lovrić Merzel received in bribes by purchasing a holiday apartment.
The indictment also included businessman Željko Žužić, who made a deal with the prosecution, after admitting that he had given Lovrić Merzel €100,000 in bribes, and was given a suspended sentence of one year’s imprisonment with four years’ probation, and the former director of the Hrvatske Šume forest management company, Zvonko Rožić, who was sentenced to eight months in prison with two years’ probation after reaching a deal with the USKOK anti-corruption office.
Lovrić Merzel was charged with receiving €100,000 in bribes from Žužić in return for selling the Ceste Sisak company to his company. She concealed this transaction by purchasing a holiday apartment and registering it in her nephew’s name.
According to the indictment, contrary to the decision by the county to build a building housing emergency medical services at another location, Lovrić Merzel did all in her power to ensure that the county bought Popec’s property at a considerably higher price, as a result of which his company made undue gain of about HRK 4 million while the county was defrauded of HRK 5.6 million.
Merzel Lovrić was also charged with commissioning unnecessary advisory services, incurring excessive entertainment expenses and concluding fictitious project contracts.
Lovrić Merzel and her co-defendants were arrested in April 2014 and four months later she resigned as Sisak-Moslavina County Prefect. The trial opened in June 2018, but had to start over three months later after a judge withdrew from the case.