In the last year, the courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) have pronounced verdicts against 13 politicians, directors of public institutions, judges, and citizens for abuse of office and election frauds discovered by the Center for Investigative Journalism (Centar za istraživačko novinarstvo – CIN). They received a total of 28 years in prison.
If all the verdicts become final, they will also be deprived of their illegally acquired property worth BAM 2.4 million, while some of them will be banned from doing the job in which they committed the crime.
Judges Drena Marin from the Prijedor District Court and Melisa Kovačević from the Zenica Municipal Court were sentenced late last year.
Marin was sentenced to nine months in prison for violating the law and if the verdict is upheld in the second instance, she will be banned from working as a judge for two years. She rendered decisions appointing her sister Sanda Zubanović as an ex-officio lawyer, as previously reported by CIN. As a judge of the Basic Court in Prijedor, Marin rendered 16 decisions from 2011 to 2016, based on which her sister was paid BAM 7,286 from the budget.
Judge Kovačević was sentenced by a final court decision to three and a half years in prison for abuse of position and accepting bribes, and she was also banned from working as a judge for five years, and on top of that, proceeds of BAM 2,122 and 1,200 euros will be seized from her. Kovačević has been accused of receiving BAM 4,772 in return for working in favour of the accused and suspects in the cases assigned to her at the Zenica Municipal Court. The indictment says that the judge also bargained for justice – she asked for more money, but also accepted less.
Senaid Begić, the director of the Health Insurance Institute of the Zenica-Doboj Canton, was convicted by a final verdict, while cases against Kemal Čaušević, the director of the BiH Indirect Taxation Administration, and Alma Maglić, head of sales in the Zenica directorate of BH Telecom are pending the final decision.
Begić was sentenced to a prison sentence of 2.5 years for abuse of office, embezzlement and fraud in office, unlawful recruitment, reimbursement of expenses of medical treatments abroad, abuse of transportation costs, and misappropriation of the Institute’s mobile phone, on which CIN reported earlier. In addition to imprisonment, the Court banned him from carrying out management functions in government bodies and public enterprises and institutions for a year and a half.
Čaušević was sentenced to nine years in prison for money laundering and receiving gifts and other forms of benefits, and his assets worth BAM 1.72 million and BAM 575,239 in cash will be confiscated if the verdict is upheld. In 2013, the CIN wrote about the assets of Čaušević, who during the seven years bought nine apartments and office premises plus 20,000 square meters of land, while his income at the time could not come close to the cost of the expensive real estate.
Maglić received a five-year prison sentence for negligent work in the service and abuse of position, i.e. for covering up a debt of millions incurred by issuing mobile phone top-ups, which the private company owed to BH Telecom.
Eight people, including former members of the Brčko District Assembly, were convicted at the Basic Court in Brčko for election fraud and vote buying with the help of grants from the budget.
Former MP Ćazim Dačaj was sentenced to four years in prison for abuse of position in awarding grants to local citizens’ associations. In addition to the prison sentence, Dačaj’s assets worth BAM 131 thousand, which he acquired through criminal acts, was confiscated and he was banned from performing MP duties in the Brčko District Assembly for five years.
Due to plotting an election fraud ahead of the 2020 general elections, representatives of the Narodni demokratski pokret (NDP) [People’s Democratic Movement] Radoslav Bogićević and Nenad Kojić were sentenced to four months in prison, and former representative of the Hrvatska seljačka stranka [Croat Peasant Party] Pejo Mendeš to six months in prison, while his helpers Jasmin Ravkić and Mato Gluhaković received four and two months in prison respectively. Vote traders Elvir Saletović and Sanel Pengić received a total of two years and four months in prison.