ZAGREB, August 29, 2019 – The Office of the Chief State Prosecutor (DORH) has sent a request to the national parliament that a lawmaker, Lovro Kuščević, be stripped of his parliamentary immunity due to suspicion that he committed abuse of office and powers, the parliament’s Credentials and Privileges Commission (MIP) said on Thursday.
The commission’s chairman, Željko Tušek, explained that he would convene a meeting for Friday so that the MIP can discuss the DORH request to be given the green light to launch an investigation into Kuščević who is believed to have been implicated in several real estate murky dealings when he was the municipal head of Nerežišća on the island of Brač.
The MIP has usually to date granted DORH’s requests to strip a parliamentary deputy of immunity.
On 20 August, the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) confirmed media reports that, together with the relevant police services (PNUSKOK), it was conducting an investigation into the case of former Public Administration Minister Kuščević, who resigned on 8 July over reported involvement in murky real estate deals.
USKOK said then that it would decide on further steps in this case after collecting the necessary evidence and that the public would be informed in a timely fashion. The information was released after web portals reported that Kuščević’s house on the island of Brač had been searched by the police on the morning of 20 August.
Some web portals claim that Kuščević is suspected of wrongdoing in real estate transactions and of abuse of office while he was at the helm of the municipality and that more suspects were involved in the affairs.
On 8 July, Kuščević resigned from the ministerial post and the post of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) political secretary. Upon his resignation, Kuščević said that he was “a responsible politician”.
“I’ve been in politics a long time,” Kuščević said, adding that “it’s clear to me that this negative perception in the media, the basis of all the unfounded attacks on me, represents a big burden on both the party and the government.”
Kuščević is currently a member of the national parliament and a councillor in the Split-Dalmatia County Assembly.
Kuščević said on Thursday he had no reason to hide behind parliamentary immunity and that he was glad he would have the chance to disprove all the accusations against him.
Speaking to Hina, Kuščević said “there is no reason to treat me differently than any other Croatian citizen. Let the Credentials and Privileges Commission act at its own discretion.”
The ex-minister said he was glad he “will finally have the chance… to refute and disprove all the accusations against me, refute all these attacks and present my defence.”
Asked who would defend him, Kuščević said he would choose a lawyer, “if that will be necessary at all,” after seeing the charges.
More news about corruption in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.