It is not uncommon in domestic courts to see a prosecutor deliberately slow down an investigation, or lead it astray. This is exactly why Sarajevo prosecutor Jamal Karić was arrested last year in the Pravda (Justice) case. He is suspected of revealing details of the investigation conducted against Aliji Delimustafic and members of his organized criminal to them, and giving them legal advice. As a reward, he was promised the position of FBiH Supreme Court Judge.
With the arrest of Karić, the Sarajevo Canton prosecution proved that no one is untouchable, not even a colleague.
“If it wants to, the BiH judiciary can eradicate corruption from its ranks. They only need a will to do so. The prosecution in Canton Sarajevo is the latest action that proves that it can be done. Everyone should start from their own judicial ranks and from the homes they represent, said Dalida Burzić, chief Sarajevo prosecutor.
Prosecutor Karić had earlier received criticism for making certain prosecutorial decisions very quickly, while others were very slow. He had made several cases against the brothers Delimustafić, but gave up the charges for each case. His prosecutorial decisions are now under further review.
Another suspect in this case is Lejla Fazlagi, former Municipal Court judge in Sarajevo. She helped Delimustafić and others to register the properties of deceased persons, and is suspected of having been a very important link in the chain of this fraud. Delimustafić allegedly awarded her with a four-bedroom apartment in the Sarajevo neighborhood of Malta, in the Sakib Nišić street.
In another case, the Una-Sana Canton prosecutor, Idriz Begić is in custody for the abuse of office and the acceptance of bribes. He is known to the general public for not only processing significant cases, but also for the fact that he was the spokesman for the Prosecutor's Office of the Una-Sana Canton until a few years ago. He had earlier been associated with concealing evidence against the accused in the case of the murder of Cvijan Radić.
When it comes to the behavior of certain prosecutors and judges, we may say that the judiciary reforms in our country have failed. The news of September last year that prosecutor Oleg Čavka used the confiscated cell phone belonging to the criminally convicted Anes Kurbegović, one of the closest allies of the Balkan mafia boss Darko Elez, placed yet another stain on the BiH judiciary's reputation. Čavka entered the spotlight a few years ago, when it was discovered that he had hacked the e-mail of then-Chief State prosecutor Milorad Barašin. To make matters worse, Barašin once made newspaper headlines for one of the biggest scandals in post-war the BiH judiciary after recordings were released of his private conversations with Slobodan Tešić, an international arms dealer. He was succeeded by Goran Salihović, who was suspended last year for a number of work irregularities, or more precisely, for hiding objects and letting unauthorized personnel conduct investigations.
Salihović was former judge in the Municipal Court of Sarajevo, and in that time was accused of delaying the punishment for the convicted Dzevad Radja, who requested a delay because of the alleged doctorate degree he was working on. However, in the meantime it came to light that this doctorate degree did not exist.
Disciplinary proceedings are being held at the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina against the former chief judge of the Sarajevo Canton, Nives Kanevčev, who marked more than 200 items as completed even though they lacked a prosecutorial decision, and was afterwards rewarded a place in the Prosecutor's Office. There are four disciplinary charges against her, for the statute of limitations, unresolved complaints, revealing judiciary secrets, and providing false information.
In November 2015, the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina suspended a judge of the Primary Court in Banja Luka, Romana Brkic. She was found guilty for abusing her position by signing and notarizing a certificate with false data on the professional examination on behalf of her husband while acting as the Zenica-Doboj Canton Minister of Justice and Administration.
Armin Kržalić from the BiH Center for Security Studies told Oslobodjenje that the first place to start should be to appoint authoritative figures in the institutions responsible for appointing judges and prosecutors (the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina).
“Analyze the structure of today’s High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which should have the best and brightest in BiH’s field of justice. There should be people with experience, those retired from many years of judicial experience, not those who first exercised their right to be called to the HJPC. There is a politicization of the Prosecutor's Office and appointees based on family and friendship ties. We need to start from the ground up to establish this institution as an example to the others,” says Kržalić, and points out that we have come to a time where "the bad appoint the better."
He says current setup of the judiciary cannot tackle corruption, and the question remains whether there is a will for this fight.
Errors and Escapes
Judge Azra Miletic has been on the BiH Court’s prosecution waiting list since 2015. She is alleged to have taken bribes from Ramo Brkić and Senad Sabić in order to influence the outcome of the appeal in which they are tried for organized crime. Brkić, a former police commissioner of the Una-Sana Canton, is a story of its own. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison for organized crime and cooperation with drug dealers. Brkić and Sabić have long been on the run due to an error in the BiH judiciary system.
Dragica Miletic, another judge of the Court, is another name on the waiting list to be prosecuted. She was accused at the end of December 2014 for office abuse during the period she acted as State Attorney.
BiH Transparency International told us recently that corruption in BiH has captured all the system’s institutions.
“The biggest problem is the high level corruption, which then overflows to the lower levels. High level corruption is done in a subtler way, which makes it hard to prove, notes Transparency International.
According to the agency for corruption prevention and coordination of the fight against corruption, it found corruption to be predominant in the judiciary system.
In 2016, the BiH public was shocked by the news that the Orasje Municipal Court president Darko Župarić was under investigation for sexual relations with a child. His apartment and car were searched, and until the completion of the investigation he is suspended and cannot perform his duties as the president of this court.
We cannot talk about these themes without mentioning Tuzla lawyer Faruk Balijagica, who the Canton Sarajevo prosecution accused of a range of serious offenses, such as, among others, threatening to murder two of his clients. After his detention release from Sarajevo he fled to Rijeka, where he, as well as Lejla Fazlagić, are currently under restriction measures.
Translated by: Tea IVANOVIĆ
(Original version: Sudije i tužioci s druge strane zakona)