A trial of Živko Budimir, former president of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) and his co-defendants Petar Barišić, Saud Kulosman, Hidajet Halilović, Željko Asić and Armin Kulovac began today before the Municipal Court in Sarajevo.
Budimir is charged with an attempt to pardon for a fee in the beginning of 2013 a person sentenced to six months in prison for aggravated assault—whose pardon application had been earlier turned down. He was joined in this by his advisor Barišić, president of a Single Veterans’ Organization of FBiH Kulosman and the president of the Pardoning Commission Halilović.
He was also charged with an attempted pardoning of a person sentenced to 2.5 years for rape for a fee of 40,000 KM with the assistance of Barišić, Kulosman and Armin Kulovac.
The indictment describes that the pardons have not occurred because Budimir was arrested in April 2013, while in his office in Sarajevo was found a court case related to the first person and a part of the advance for the pardoning of the second person.
Budimir is also charged for soliciting 10,000 KM, together with his party colleague Željko Asić who was a former legislator at the FBiH Parliament’s House of Representatives, to help a person from Travnik gain employment with a publicly-owned power utility of Hrvatska Zajednica Herceg Bosna. After a 5,000 KM advance was paid, the person was not hired because Budimir was arrested.
Budimir was also charged for abuse of office because he signed without authorization in the name of the director of the power utility a bill worth nearly 850 KM at a restaurant in Jajce in September 2012.
In February 2013, Budimir abused and overstepped his official authority when he signed an order for procurement of two sport jackets and two pants of Calvin Klein brand at the expense of the Presidency. According to the indictment, Budimir had already bought these items during an official trip to the United States and afterwards he passed a decision about the fictitious purchase of equipment worth 494 KM.
“I have not heard more lies in one place,” said Budimir after a prosecutor read the indictment. His lawyer Ragib Hadžić agreed saying that this was a bogus story and a set-up.
Sarajevo Canton Prosecutor Sanin Bogunić said that he will prove the charges by presenting evidence and cross-examining the witnesses.
Defense attorneys said that they will speak their mind after the prosecutors presented evidence, while some said that they will contest the legality of the prosecution evidence.
At this hearing was cross-examined Slađenko Čerkez, an officer from the State Investigation and Protection Agency who talked how he had received tips about illegal pardons from a registered informant.
“Sometime in November 2012 I received a tip that some pardons can be obtained for a fee,” said Čerkez.
His testimony was interrupted because defense attorneys complained that they did not know exactly what Čerkez was going to testify about and they could not get ready for cross-examining of the witness.
The Court adjourns until September 29, when Čerkez will testify again.