President-Elect Milanović to Testify in Travel Expense Scam Trial

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, January 26, 2020 – Zoran Milanović, who was recently elected Croatian president, is supposed to testify on Monday before Zagreb County Court in the trial dubbed travel expense scam in which Tomislav Saucha, who was Milanovic’s chief of staff during his premiership, and his secretary, Sandra Zeljko, are implicated.

At the start of their trial, Saucha and Zeljko pleaded not guilty to the charges of falsifying 125 travel orders and defrauding the state budget of 960,000 kuna (130,000 euro).

Saucha is charged with falsifying travel orders in collusion with Zeljko, who the prosecution alleges continued doing so after Saucha left office.

Milanović will take a witness stand in this case due to the fact that that Saucha was his chief of staff while Milanović served as the prime minister, and due to the fact that some of the false travel orders referred to made-up travels ostensibly involving Milanović’s special advisors, the Večernji List daily said on Sunday..

Some of those former advisors of Milanović already took a witness stand in this trial and one of them, historian Neven Budak, told the court in late 2019 that someone had forged his signatures on 44 travel orders.

“At the time when I was the prime minister’s special advisor on science and education I travelled only once, to Sydney, when a Croatian language department was opened there. When I returned, secretary Sandra Zeljko told me that I should not write any report or calculate the costs, which I found odd because as the dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences I knew how travel expenses are calculated,” Budak told the court on 22 November 2019.

Siniša Petrović, a former special advisor to former PM Milanović, said that during the investigation in the case he had checked his travel orders and signatures and realised that those orders referred to trips in 2015 and 2016 which he did not go on and that the signature on the orders was not his.

The Večernji List underscores the fact that Milanović is the first president-elect to testify before a court. The daily newspaper recalls that former heads of state, Stipe Mesić and Ivo Josipović, were also summoned by courts to testify in trials, however, they gave testimonies after their terms as presidents.

More news about Zoran Milanović can be found in the Politics section.


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