The CIN feature by Jelena Jevtić and Mubarek Asani titled „The Boss and Her Blackshirt Mob“ on ITA BiH inspectors racketeering shop owners, asking for money to turn the blind eye to their business mismanagement won the first prize of the EU Investigative Journalism Award in BiH.
CIN journalist Adna Zilić won the third prize with the story „Police Uniforms Requirements Tailored For Private Businessmen“. Zilić disclosed the internal rules adopted by police agencies in BiH which for years made it possible for only one company to win the multimillion tenders for procurement of police uniforms.
The second prize went to Amarildo Gutić, the journalist of the online magazine Žurnal, for his film „Battle for the Political Commissioner“.
EU Investigative Journalism Awards in the Western Balkans and Turkey aim to celebrate and promote the outstanding achievements of investigative journalists as well as improve the visibility of quality journalism in the Western Balkans and Turkey.
The prizes were awarded at the end of the first day of the 2022 Media Conference, which takes place in Tirana, Albania on November 10 and 11, 2022. The conference gathered about 180 participants from the Western Balkans and European Union to discuss the key challenges faced by journalists and the media today: free media, journalist protection, information manipulation, and misinformation.
Jevtić and Asani discovered that the Head of the ITA’s Anti-Smuggling Group Jelena Majstorović and inspectors Radenko Popović, Stevo Savić, and Vladimir Puzić in 2017 and 2018 have been blackmailing the malfeasant shop owners, asking them for a bribe not to confiscate their goods. They were taking money and letting the shop owners continue their business as usual or issuing petty penalty charge notices.
Shop owners across BiH who were caught with some „surplus“ goods have been paying a bribe of a few hundred to several thousand BAM. In May 2022, the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) seized ITA documentation required as evidence in the criminal proceedings against the inspectors.
Zilić’s story reveals how police agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been buying uniforms and shoes worth millions from the company „KM Trade“ from Visoko for years, following internal regulations that exclude other domestic companies from this business. According to these regulations, police officers must wear uniforms and footwear matching the characteristics of the US brand „5.11“ and German brand „Haix“. The only dealer of the goods matching the characteristics precisely described in the regulations is the company KM Trade.
Thanks to this, since 2013, the company from Visoko has made at least 17.5 million BAM doing business with the Sarajevo Kanton Ministry of the Interior, the BiH Directorate for Coordination of Police Bodies, the RS Ministry of the Interior and the FBiH Police Administration.