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The Former Sarajevo Mayor Abdulah Skaka Arrested

Abdulah Skaka, former mayor of Sarajevo and ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Qatar, was arrested on charges of abuse of position during recruitment and other criminal offenses.

The Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to Qatar, Abdulah Skaka, was arrested on suspicion of abusing his position and authority while he was the mayor of Sarajevo. During his arrest, the police also searched his home.

The Sarajevo Canton Prosecutor’s Office charges him with illegally hiring four advisers in the City Administration, illegally spending the city’s public money, awarding grants to non-governmental organizations in which his family members were engaged, giving a gift to influence the election of the chair of the City Council and not showing the donations the City received.

Skaka is also investigated for spending city money on the road lighting project in Rajski Do settlement, where he has a vacation home. The settlement is located in Trnovo, Republika Srpska, hence the allocation was explained as an aid to returnees. Sarajevo City allocated BAM 15,000 for this purpose, and Trnovo (in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina) Mayor Ibro Berilo approved another BAM 8,000 from the budget of the Municipality of Trnovo.

Back in 2018, CIN wrote about Skaka appointing three advisers with Berilo’s assistance at the beginning of his term of office. These advisers became civil servants thanks to a procedural maneuver facilitated by Skaka and Berilo.

In late September 2017, the Trnovo Municipality announced a competition to which Maja Hadžihalilović, Nedim Tvrtković, and Erna Čolić, who previously served as an advisor to the former mayor Ivo Komšić, applied.

All of them were hired, and they all immediately filed a request with Mayor Berilo to be transferred from the Municipality to their previous employer – the Sarajevo City Administration.

The three uniform requests of the new civil servants stated: “I am required to take up the new position as of February 1, 2018.”

Although they were employees of his team, mayor Berilo let them go. “They expressed their desire to go”, he said.

The very next day, Mayor Skaka signed the agreement on taking over the officials. When asked why the City Administration did not look for employees if it needed them, Mayor Skaka then replied that they were already in the civil service system: “They offered me an agreement, and I signed it, that’s all.  There is nothing controversial about it.”

One day, the three of them worked in the Municipality, and the next day they were transferred to the City Administration, just as they requested.

Hadžihalilović started working as the head of the Mayor’s Expert Service, Tvrtković as the mayor’s assistant for urban planning, investments, housing, and communal affairs, and Čolić became the head of the Cabinet in the Mayor’s Expert Service. The three of them did not want to talk about this matter. Some claimed to be on vacation, some had no interest in talking and some ignored the call for an interview.

Mayor Skaka and Mayor Berilo claimed no arrangements were made regarding the competition and the transfer agreement.

Sarajevo Advisors More Important Than Law
The mayor and the heads of Sarajevo municipalities have hired 20 advisors over the past 14 months, even though these posts had been abolished. Nearly half a million KM has been spent paying them.

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