The main problem in Bosnia’s judiciary is not classic corruption, but rather the long-term connections between politicians and judicial officials who want to move forward in their careers, House of Representatives member, Damir Arnaut, told N1 on Wednesday.
Arnaut is the head of the chamber’s Temporary investigative committee on the situation in the BiH judiciary. He announced that the committee will present a comprehensive report next month based on more than 30 hearings.
“The connection between politicians and holders of judicial office is something that almost all politicians have pointed out as one of the main problems. We managed to identify what connects all these testimonies. Witnesses essentially agree that there is no classic corruption in the judiciary, but that corruption is usually manifested through connections with politicians in order for one to move forward in their career,” he explained.
“One witness said: If you are willing to spend your whole life in a simple prosecutorial position, at the municipal or cantonal level, you can basically never meet with a politician and you will remain there. However, if you have ambitions to move to a higher post, the perception within the judiciary is that it is necessary to have political connections,” he said, arguing that the former head of Bosnia’s High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), Milan Tegeltija, is an example of this.
“Tegeltija did an inappropriate thing when he went to a political rally convened by (Milorad) Dodik, and the fact that he got a job in Dodik's cabinet speaks volumes,” he said.
Milorad Dodik is the Bosnian Serb member of the country's tripartite Presidency and the leader or the ruling party in BiH's Republika Srpska (RS) entity.
He recently showed his middle finger to reporters as he was leaving the BiH Prosecutor’s Office, where he was questioned as a suspect in the ‘Pavlovic Bank’ case.
According to Arnaut, Dodik’s gesture was “just a tactic” as he is “noticeably nervous.”
“I'm not an expert on that, but from everything I've read I know that showing the middle finger is a reflection of nervousness. The fact that he was questioned as a suspect shows that this is a serious matter,” he said.
Prosecutors are looking into Dodik’s purchase of a villa in Belgrade, which he bought with a loan from Pavlovic Bank in the amount of 750 thousand euros. The case was initiated in 2016 based on allegations that the bank provided a fictitious loan to him.
Dodik, who is also the leader of the ruling party in Bosnia's semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity, told N1 on Wednesday that the case was “politically motivated.”
“I hope that the Prosecutor's Office will seriously persevere in this and that it is not just a show. We will see, but at the moment the situation is far better than with Gordana Tadic, who was fired,” Arnaut said, referring to the former Chief Prosecutor who was suspended from the post last year due to negligence.
Arnaut said the situation in the BiH Prosecutor’s Office is “changing for the better.”
He welcomed the fact that the HJCP, which is BiH’s top judicial institution, did not wait for the committee’s report and took action, initiating a case against Tadic.
Arnaut warned about Russian influence in BiH.
“We have information from the highest circles that Russian presence here has increased significantly, people with diplomatic status, but cultural attachés,” he said.
According to Arnaut, “a cultural attaché is a euphemism for spies, except for a few of them who truly do deal with culture.”