Pundits Comment on Developments Surrounding Minister’s Arrest

Total Croatia News

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Image: Darko Horvat/Facebook
Image: Darko Horvat/Facebook

Construction and State Assets Minister Darko Horvat was arrested on Saturday on the abuse of power charges, and upon his apprehension the minister dismissed the charges.

The Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) on Saturday evening stated that based on a police report, it launched an investigation of two persons on suspicion of abuse of office, and that another four suspects in the case are accused of incitement to the offence.

USKOK did not reveal the identities of the six suspects, however, earlier in the day media outlets reported that the suspects are Construction Minister Darko Horvat, his former aide Ana Mandac, as well as Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević, the Regional Development Ministry’s state secretary Velimir Žunac, the director of the administration for assisted areas, Katica Mišković, and former minister Tomislav Tolušić.

According to USKOK’s statement, in his previous capacity as economy minister, Horvat is believed to have signed off on the disbursement of grants in the amount of HRK 2.6 million (€347,000) to some businesses that are ineligible for aid, between November 2018 to the end of 2018, at the urging of Tolušić, Milošević, Žunac and Mišković.

Upon his arrest, Horvat resigned. 

Commenting on the developments, the analyst Puhovski told Hina on Saturday evening that in the event that the case remained within the limits pertaining to Horvat, the cabinet led by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković would not be negatively affected by the scandal.

“The developments could even make things easier for PM Plenković, as in this way he got rid of the minister with the poorest performance”, said the pundit.

“However, if the whole case expands to include Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević, all this will grow into a serious issue both for the government and for the ruling coalition. In such scenario, it is possible to have discussions on early elections, however I do not believe that we will have them soon,” said this analyst.

Puhovski agrees with Plenković that the gravity of the arrest of a minister required the appearance of the State Attorney General in the public to give further explanations.

Upon Horvat’s arrest, Plenković held an impromptu news conference in which he said, among other things, that he expected the State Attorney’s Office (DORH) to explain the urgency of the actions taken.

However, DORH said later that it and the attorney general would not comment on the Prime Minister call on DORH, and that “the competent state attorney’s office and the USKOK anti-corruption office are taking action in line with the law.”

Puhovski said that this was the second time in the present-day Croatia that an incumbent minister was arrested, and he believes that it is unfair from DORH to give only a press release claiming that prosecutors are doing their job in line with laws and that they will not give any explanations to anybody.

“They should have informed the general public what this is about, as the arrest concerns a minister,” said Puhovski.

One pundit for early election, another believes it would be dangerous in current circumstances

On the other hand pundit Anđelko Milardović criticises PM Plenković for making statements which, he says, interfere in the work of DORH.

This pundit slams Plenković for “authoritarian tendencies that also smack of the dictatorial way of governance.”

Milardović also said that Horvat should have been dismissed instantly, and that the Prime Minister should also have resigned.

While Milardović believes that the ruling majority should dissolve itself, another political analyst Gjenero told Hina that calling for snap elections in the current circumstances of unpredictable global developments, is dangerous.

Gjenero finds it odd that the arrest of Horvat and this case implicating his former aide Mandac was not a follow-up to “the wind park” case in which Mandac was also a suspect, but that this is being regarded as an entirely different matter.

This analyst also points out that the latest allegations concern the coalition between the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the biggest party representing an ethnic minority, the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS). 

“This is always a politically sensitive situation, I am very reserved about what that can be actually,” he said, adding that the affair could give ammunition to those who claim that the HDZ-SDSS coalition is an outcome of a trade-off.

“If there are any elements hinting at corruption, those involved must immediately step down, however I find this whole case an odd precedent”, he added.

More on this story from yesterday:

Minister Horvat Denies Guilt, Anti-Corruption Office Demands Remand in Custody

State Attorney’s Office says Won’t Comment on PM’s Statement After Minister’s Arrest

Grbin: Election Only Salvation for Croatia

Čačić: Horvat Has to Go, Reformists’ Support Depends on Police Operation’s Results

Croatian Prime Minister Blames USKOK for Ruining Croatia’s Spectacular Week

PM Calls on Prosecutors to Explain Case Implicating Minister Horvat 

Police Probe is Targeting Horvat and Milošević, Aladrović not Implicated


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