Secretly Recorded Conversations Admissible in Case against Zagreb Mayor Bandić

Total Croatia News

New legal problems for the Mayor of Zagreb ahead of local elections in May 2017.

Secretly recorded telephone calls and text messages, taken during the investigation against Mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandić and other suspects in the so-called Agram affair, are legally admissible, decided on Friday the Supreme Court, on the basis of an appeal made by the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime (USKOK), which appealed the previous decision made by the Zagreb County Court that the evidence was illegally obtained, reports HRT on December 9, 2016.

The Supreme Court concluded that it could not accept the judgment of the first instance court which ruled that the content of the explanation of the investigative judge was insufficient and inadequate, because of its obscurity which allegedly did not meet the standard of being “balanced” between the right to respect private and family life of a person and other rights. The Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime, according to the decision of the Supreme Court, was right when it pointed out the entire contents of the explanation, which the court of first instance in part neglected.

The Zagreb County Court had ruled that secretly recorded telephone conversations and text messages were inadmissible on the proposal made by the defence of Milan Bandić and the co-accused. USKOK appealed the decision saying that it was unusual that the surveillance measures were deemed illegal after the same court had authorized them during an earlier part of the investigation. Now, the Zagreb County Court has to decide whether indictment merits a trial.

The 400-page indictment against Zagreb Mayor, his associates and “business partners” of city-owned companies, for alleged illegalities worth more than 25 million kuna, was filed by USKOK in mid-December 2015. The investigation was launched due to suspicion that the mayor and his associates caused financial damage to the city budget, and that he did not pay taxes on money received as political campaign donations during his campaign for the presidential elections in 2010. He is also accused of favouring private companies giving them large contracts without public tenders, trading in influence, the illegal employment of people in city institution and Zagreb Holding, as well as for illegal use of official city cars for private purposes.

Bandić was arrested after the investigation was launched. He was later released on bail, but was returned briefly to prison again due to allegedly influencing witnesses while out of prison. Ultimately, he was freed by the decision of the Constitutional Court.

There are also a number of other confirmed and unconfirmed indictments against Bandić’s associates who are charged for numerous other irregularities.


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