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At the Edge of Law

Abdurahman Malkić has friends and foes from his long tenure as the Mayor of Srebrenica, and there have even been criminal complaint against him. He also has a lot more money than when he first took office.
Abdurahman Malkić

Abdurahman Malkić, 45, the former mayor of Municipality Srebrenica, riled his constituents by not living full-time in Srebenica while he ran its government, and increased his assets and built other sources of income while in office.

He has faced seven criminal charges relating to abuse of office, but convicted of only one, for which he was sentenced to six months but granted a suspended sentence and two years probation in 2008.

According to records and to colleagues, Malkić was never shy about using his position to help himself. For example, he said to a reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo (CIN) – after a series of strenuous denials – that he steered reconstruction money from a private foreign donor to a neighborhood in which is mostly inhabited but in which he owns a house.

From 1997 he was a mayor of Srebrenica in exile, based in Tuzla. After that, he was the secretary of the Office for the Resolving the Status of Refugees in Srebrenica. Simultaneously, he was an MA in the Parliament of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) from 1998 to 2002.

Then, at the end 2002, he was elected as mayor of Srebrenica when refugees started returning to that city.

In March 2005, after he had been active politician for eight years and at the beginning of his second term as Mayor, he filed his first assets card, required by BiH for all politicians at the outset of their terms and after the term is over. The purpose of the filing is to let the public know the state of a politician’s wealth when he first takes office and to assess how he fared financially while in office.

On that card Malkić wrote that he resided in Srebrenica in Milivoja Mičića street and his annual mayor’s wages amounting to 16,221 KM in 2004 as his only source of income. He reported that he owned a house with his mother and brother with an estimated value of 100,000 KM. Additionally, he reported owning a 6,000 KM vehicle, NISSAN and 19,600 KM worth of stocks from Privatization-Investment Fund Bosfin.

At the end of his term in November 2008 he filed his second assets card in which he listed his address as Jošanica Gornja in the Sarajevo suburb of Vogošća. His mayor’s annual income had increased to 28,021 KM in 2007 and he also reported having a new car, a Renault Megane worth 25,000 KM.

He also reported 20,000 KM worth of Šipad Commerce stocks. Malkić said he invested a 19,800 KM voucher from the BiH Army to buy those stocks and that he still does not want to sell them.

In the same assets card, Malkić reported that he had three loans with Raiffeisen bank amounting to the total of 23,480.

Even though he did not report this in his 2008 assets card, Malkić in the interview said that he, during his term as Mayor of Srebrenica, bought business premises in the Center of Srebrenica. He said he paid 19,800 KM at an auction for the property that is now a restaurant run by his brother, Hamdija.

As opposed to his 2005 assets card, he reported in 2008 that his wife is now employed with an annual income of 8,400 KM.

His critics and former associates describe Malkić as a brave and hard-working man, but one who was unwilling to accept advice.

Ćamil Duraković, now deputy mayor of Srebrenica, used to be Malkić’s advisor.

‘During the period I worked there I believe he did not value his associates much, nor did he take anyone’s opinions’ Duraković told a CIN reporter.

Malkić disagreed with that assessment: ‘I did like to listen, talk, but when I hear stupid things I can’t let that go on endlessly. Certain things cannot be done like that.’

Rebuilding a Village

His finances, and not his personality, have caused the most attention in Srebrenica. It was the place of the war’s most brutal atrocities and in ensuing years millions of KM in international aid poured in.

The village of Poznanović as well of Malkić’s assets – registered in the name of his still missing father– received significant reconstruction money.

With the fall of Srebrenica his father, Rušid Malkić, disappeared and his fate is still unknown. He left property in the village Poznanovići, where Malkić was born, and other property in the neighboring village of Ratkovići.

According to information from the Republika Srpska agency for zoning and property affairs, Abdurahman Malkić and his family will inherit more than 63,300 square meters of land, including house and surrounding buildings, orchards, fields, forests and pastures. All the property is still registered in the name of his father.

The Poznanovići village was destroyed during the war and all its inhabitants were either killed or expelled. During his second term as mayor in 2006, Malkić directed foreign donation to Poznanovići to reconstruct the houses in the village. As is the case with most of the donated funds in BiH, there is no estimate of the exact amount of grant funds spent to reconstruct the village.

Today there are new houses there, built on the foundations of the houses that were destroyed, and new asphalt roads. But the inhabitants have, mostly, not returned, and the new construction mostly remains empty, with no residents around during a visit this summer.

There are reasons for this, starting with an economy that offers no jobs or prospects for those returning. Other former residents have built new lives inside and outside of the country and have not returned.

Malkić admitted to having directed that donation to his village and finds nothing wrong with doing it.

When told by a CIN reporter that no one else inhabited Poznanovići village, he first claimed it was not true. But then he admitted, ‘Of course I rest best in this village. Sometimes at nights I’m left alone and I know that 200 people used to live there.’

While Poznanovići was being rebuilt, some villages to which former residents of Srebrenica returned have seen little progress; the nearby village of Ljeskovik, for example has no paved roads.

The decision to rebuild an empty hamlet instead of places to which people are returning annoys Duraković, the current deputy mayor, he said.

‘I would simply like for someone to explain what the reason for that up there was. I would like them to give me a motive and a reason’ Duraković said. ‘I think he made some mistakes there.’

Free Rent

Although Malkić, in his first assets card, wrote that he lived in Srebrenica, he actually lived part time in Vogošća, and he said in interview that he used a rented apartment in Srebrenica for part of the time, mostly after work days. That became a point of contention with residents.

Further, he told CIN in an interview he did not pay rent on the Srebrenica apartment because the building’s owner, GIK Radnik of Srebrenica, which is partially owned by state, had filed for bankruptcy.

‘I have been using this apartment and, of course, if I can use it for myself why wouldn’t I. Supposedly, it is the property of the Municipality, of Radnik which is bankrupt so we’ll see what happens’ he said.

in Vogošća

Malkić and his brother have built a house in Vogošća. He reported in his latest assets card that he in fact co-owns this two-story house but land records of the Sarajevo Municipal Court did not list him as an owner.

A detailed check with the zoning office of the Vogošća Municipality showed that Malkić submitted a request for the legalization of this property in February 2007. The request has still not been approved.

‘Someone was bothered by the fact that we, people from Srebrenica, bought this and they did not want to allow us to administratively register this in our name and complete procedures for the construction and urban permits’ said Malkić.

In the interview he said that he filed, with the court, the purchase contract as soon as he bought the land. However, the tax office of Canton Sarajevo notified CIN that Malkić ‘does not have a registered purchase contract.’

This contract is the basis for property tax payment.

Criminal Complaints

The Bijeljina District Prosecutor’s Office reported that seven criminal complaints had been filed against Malkić between 2006 and 2008, all entailing allegations of misuse of office or authority and all disputed by Malkić.

Three were rejected, while another three are still under investigation.

Only one led to his only conviction. In October 2008, the Basic Court in Srebrenica found Malkić abused his authority when he overruled a government inspector who seized 30 sheep she said were illegally sold from one man to another. Malkić ordered that the sheep be returned after the seller called him and asked for help. The court ruled that Malkić broke the law by interfering in the inspector’s work.

Malkić was found guilty and ordered to serve six month in prison but the sentence was suspended and he was put on two years’ probation.

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