ZAGREB, January 27, 2020 – An MP of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party, Franjo Lučić, pleaded not guilty to the charges of attempted bribery of Drago Hedl, a reporter for the Telegram news website, at the start of his trial before the County Court in the eastern city of Osijek on Monday.
The hearing opened with the prosecution presenting its evidence – an audio recording of a conversation between Lučić and Hedl.
Lučić was originally indicted by the USKOK anti-corruption office in March 2018 on suspicion of attempting to bribe Hedl in 2017 when he asked Hedl not to publish an article based on information the reporter had obtained about Lučić’s and his companies’ financial transactions, claiming that the article would harm him as a lawmaker and businessman.
Lučić was charged with trying to persuade Hedl not to publish his article and offering to pay him three times the amount the reporter would have earned from the article from his media organisation.
The next hearing was set for March 25.
The indictment against Lučić was upheld in November 2019 after Osijek County Court did not confirm it in May because the trial chamber suspended the hearing after deciding to remove a transcript of the conversation between Lučić and Hedl as inadmissible.
The Supreme Court upheld a complaint by USKOK and subsequently admitted the private audio recording of the conversation between Hedl and Lučić.
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