ZAGREB, September 2, 2019 – The parliamentary Credentials and Privileges Commission on Monday stripped MP Lovro Kuščević of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and a former public administration minister of parliamentary immunity at the request of the State Prosecutor’s Office (DORH) for the purpose of pressing criminal charges on suspicion of abuse of office and powers.
DORH suspects Kuščević of wrongdoing in real estate transactions and of abuse of office while he was at the helm of the municipality of Nerežišća and that more suspects were involved in the affairs.
Even though the commission’s chairman Željko Tušek appealed to MPs not to make any political qualifications, opposition MPs lambasted Kuščević and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.
MP Gordan Maras of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) claimed that Kuščević was the prime minister’s closest associate, the administration minister until recently and HDZ’s political secretary.
“Until two months ago the prime minister fervently defended him and said that he had gone over every sheet of paper with him and that there was nothing contentious there, which is even more concerning,” Maras said.
He added that he expects the prime minister to step down if an indictment against Kuščević is upheld because he took political responsibility for him.
Bridge Party MP Robert Podoljnak too considers that the case undoubtedly indicates Prime Minister Plenković’s responsibility because he defended Kuščević even though the documents show justified suspicion of a criminal act. He added that it was disappointing that there were no control mechanisms to prevent situations of this nature and that crime and corruption was identified by the media.
Kuščević is suspected of murky real estate deals when he was the mayor of Nerežišća on the island of Brac.
An investigation by the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) is extended to Kuščević’s brother-in-law Ivica Žuvić, a former chairman of the Nerežišća municipal council Jakša Goić and incumbent municipal mayor Svemir Obilinović.
More news about corruption in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.