Minister of Defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Marina Pendeš was acquitted today by the Court of BiH of the charges of careless performance of official duties and forging of documents.
Last July, the State Prosecutor’s Office charged in an indictment Pendeš for allowing her advisor and a party colleague Ivo Miro Jović to receive a salary despite him not showing up for work. Pendeš appointed Jović as her advisor in 2013 at the time when she was deputy state minister of defense.
According to the indictment, Pendeš ordered her secretary to keep record of his presence even though he was not coming to work. The prosecutors found that Jović missed work for 84 days. However, the Court accepted the defense’s argument that Jović worked on behalf of the Ministry at all times, whether in the office or not.
Justice Branko Perić said that the Court of BiH should not be dealing with careless performance of official duties and said that this offence is obsolete. He added that the office of advisor and their duties are vague, but that individuals should not be held responsible, but the system.
Pendeš was not present at the return of the verdict because she was in the official visit to Macedonia. Her attorney Josip Muselimović told reporters that someone should learn a lesson from this case. “Arbitrary prosecutions against senior officeholders should not be conducted,” he said.
BIH Prosecutor’s Office wrote in a press release that they were not happy with the verdict and that they would appeal. The prosecutors point out that it was illegal to give out the budget money to a person who almost never showed up for work and added that the amount of 13,000 KM is higher than the average salary of a Bosnian citizen.
Ivo Miro Jović was a former member of the BiH Presidency and an MP with the House of Peoples of the BiH Parliamentary Assembly. He was also an advisor to Josip Kvasina, the chairman of the Central-Bosnia Assembly, before he became advisor to Marina Pendeš, then deputy minister of defense. Pendeš reappointed him as advisor when she became the state minister of defense in April 2015. Three months later, Jović retired and received 12,158.64 KM in severance pay.