Reporter Nino Bilajac from the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN) in Sarajevo is a winner of an international award from European Media Organization for South East Europe (SEEMO). Bilajac will receive the 2017 award in the category of young professional reporters.
The awards will be given out at an international conference in Tirana, Albania to be held on November 15. The award for the best professional reporter will be shared between Serbian reporters Dragana Pećo and Stevan Dojčinović from the Crime and Corruption Reporting Network (KRIK). The special mention will go to a Hungarian reporter Ákos Keller-Alánt, and posthumously to Ján Kuciak, a Slovak investigative reporter who was killed in the beginning of this year. Also, a Montenegrin investigative reporter Olivera Lakić, who was wounded in an attack outside her home this May, will receive a special diploma for her work.
The applications from nine countries were examined by an international jury made up of reporters and editors from six European countries.
During 2017, Bilajac investigated illegalities in the Parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH). An investigative story titled Fake Accommodation for Additional Income on which Bilajac worked with his colleague Jelena Jevtić, accompanied with a video and political comic, revealed how legislators working at the House of Peoples falsely claimed accommodation expenses in Sarajevo.
Legislators who reside at least 70 kilometers from the capital are entitled to 800 KM a month for accommodation, transport and living expenses. CIN found out that some legislators look for the cheapest accommodation deals and pocket the rest of the money. Some let others live in the places the government rent for them – their children, or their landlords with their families, or just other tenants.
On the heels of this story another one followed revealing how five out of eight advisors to Lidija Bradara, chairwoman of the House of Peoples, are ineligible by law for those posts.
These two stories caught not only public’s attention but also that of the judicial authorities. The Prosecutor’s Office of the Sarajevo Canton opened an investigation based on those two stories. The FBiH Police Authority requested the records from the Parliament about the legislators and the advisors.
At the end of 2017, Bilajac published another story about an FBiH legislator. Jasenko Tufekčić, the vice-president at the House of Peoples of the FBiH Parliament, falsely claimed travel expenses for his official trips from Livno to Sarajevo.
Tufekčić filled out incorrect information on his travel orders to collect fuel and per diems paid by the Parliament. During two years he filled out travel orders with two different number plates. CIN uncovered that at least one of them did not belong to his car. He rode to Sarajevo in a car that belonged to the Party of Democratic Action in Livno.
CIN investigation revealed that in 2015 and 2016, Tufekčić’s schedule called for 89 days of work on duties. However, he submitted nearly double that number of travel orders. During that time, he collected at least 28,000 KM in travel expenses and per diems based on 164 travel orders.
Soon after, the FBIH House of Peoples’ secretary Izmir Hadžiavdić filed a criminal complaint with Sarajevo Canton Prosecutor’s Office against Tufekčić.