3 guilty verdicts for illegal favouritism handed down based on EPPO indictment

NEWS 26.09.2022 14:05
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Three defendants of the 10 indictees, in a case filed by the European Prosecutor in which the main suspects are Nova Gradiska Mayor Vinko Grgic, former Velika Gorica Mayor Drazen Barisic, and businessman Kreso Petek, pleaded guilty on Monday and were sentenced to community service or probation.

The indictment against the ten defendants was filed by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) on 25 May.

A panel of judges of Zagreb County Court on Monday upheld the indictment for Zvonko Maras from the Solarna Energija company, and for Tomislav Jelisavac and Katarina Gasparac from Velika Gorica’s VG Vodoopskrba water management company.

As a result of plea bargain with the EPPO, the three were found guilty of illegal favouritism and attempted abuse of position and authority.

Maras and Jelisavac were sentenced to community service, while Katarina Gasparac’s prison sentence was replaced by three-year probation.

Fines imposed on two of the defendants

In addition to the sentence of eight months in prison, which was replaced by community service, Maras, who was accused in the case involving Nova Gradiska Mayor Grgic, will also have to pay a fine of €26,700.

A fine of 1€3,400 was also ruled against Jelisavac, the director of VG Vodoopskrba, while the head of the department for EU projects in the same company, Katarina Gasparac, was sentenced to one year in prison, but was given probation for three years.

The European Prosecutor’s Office reported that the three were charged with of manipulating procurement procedures in order to secure the assignment of construction projects, including a solar power plant and a wastewater treatment facility.

The projects had a total value of €22.6 million (HRK 169.9 million) and were all co-financed by the European Union Cohesion Fund and the European Regional Development Fund. The damage to the EU budget was largely prevented thanks to the efficacy of the investigators, says the EPPO.

Case to continue in November

The panel of judges will reconvene in November to decide on the merits of the indictment. More plea bargains and consensual verdicts are expected..

The indictment accuses Grgic, a former SDP official, who was re-elected mayor of Nova Gradiska in 2020 after his arrest, that he arranged and received €15,000 in bribes on two occasions from businessman Kreso Petek in exchange for awarding two construction projects.

The EPPO also accused Petek of having agreed with Barisic, who used to be the HDZ mayor of Velika Gorica at the time, to do everything possible so that the works on the construction of the wastewater treatment plant and control system, as well as the project to restore the public lighting system, would be assigned to his companies.

Petek was also accused of bribery in the so-called Janaf scandal together with the former director of that public company, Dragan Kovacevic.

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