ZAGREB, Oct 7, 2020 – The We Can! political platform has said that the HDZ party is right to fear a proposal to form a parliamentary commission to investigate possible influence by the authorities on investigations and prosecution of corruption, noting that it will not give up until that influence has been investigated.
“They are afraid that the commission of inquiry could find answers to the questions of why we do not have convictions for corruption, why after billions of kuna stolen there are no culprits, and why long-term prison sentences are not being served,” MPs Sandra Bencic and Tomislav Tomasevic said after the HDZ said that it would reject the Opposition’s motion to form a commission of inquiry to investigate the work of state institutions and information leaks in the JANAF corruption case.
The two MPs said they would not give up on the goals stated in the motion for the commission of inquiry regardless of whether the commission would be formed with the will of the HDZ-led parliamentary majority.
“Our message to the HDZ is: We will investigate it one way or another, so you have reason to be afraid,” they said.
They dismissed PM Andrej Plenkovic’s and the HDZ’s justification for their opposition to the motion, such as that the commission’s investigation would be too extensive, that the commission would bring into question court autonomy, that state institutions already function, and that the same objectives could be achieved through existing parliamentary committees.
Bencic and Tomasevic say that the commission has a very clear and narrow objective, which boils down to the influence of politics on investigations and the judiciary and the leaking of information from investigations.
The commission would not bring court autonomy into question
The law on inquiry commissions says that a motion to form such a commission must refer to an entire area and an entire set of questions, and not just one, as claimed by Plenkovic, they say.
Court autonomy does not entail a ban on the oversight of the judiciary as a system, and the purpose of the opposition’s motion is not to investigate individual cases but rather the way the system works, its weak points with regard to resilience to corruption, and it’s capacity to deal with big corruption cases, the two MPs say.
They note that the commission will not bring into question court autonomy but will ask representatives of the judiciary to say, based on their experience, how the system can be improved.
As for the PM’s claim that “state institutions function”, Bencic and Tomasevic wondered how it was possible for the Express weekly to publish a list of 60 big corruption scandals of which only a few resulted in a conviction and most involved members of the HDZ.
Existing parliamentary committees cannot carry out the investigation because they lack the powers a commission of inquiry has. Nobody can refuse to testify before or submit documents requested by a commission of inquiry on pain of penalty, they say.
Bencic and Tomasevic conclude that Plenkovic and the HDZ are afraid the commission would deal with systematic shortcomings in the fight against corruption and organized crime and that it would transpire that the HDZ has created and maintained a system that is weak and susceptible to political influence, which is why it cannot resolve any major corruption case.