State attorney says politicians' statements harm perception of DORH's autonomy

NEWS 14.10.2020 14:51
Source: Patrik Macek/PIXSELL

State Attorney Zlata Hrvoj Sipek said on Wednesday, ahead of a session of the parliametanry home policy and national security committee focusing on information leaks in the JANAF corruption case, that politicians' statements harmed the public perception of her office's autonomy.

“I do not communicate with the prime minister and the president about investigations. The Office of the State Attorney (DORH) acts in line with the law and Constitution, and the Criminal Procedure Act is very clear and says that neither DORH nor I have the obligation to report to the prime minister. DORH cooperates with police and the Security-Intelligence Agency (SOA) and, if, at any moment, it happened to come across information about a threat to national security, we would definitely consider it together and each service would report to whomever it has to report to,” Hrvoj Sipek told reporters.

As for information leaks, Hrvoj Sipek said that last year courts, acting at the request of DORH and USKOK, issued orders for the collection of evidence against 553 people. “I am asking you, how many information leaks were there in connection with those cases?”

JANAF case classic crime, national security not jeopardised

The government has no business knowing about investigations because the law is clear and cannot be interpreted the way someone chooses to, she said.

The JANAF case is not a case in which national security was compromised, it concerns classic criminal activities and as such it did not require even consideration, whether to report it to other competent services, let alone doing so, Hrvoj Sipek said.

She dismissed a reporter’s interpretation that she had been called to account by both the prime minister and the president, saying that DORH had never commented on politicians’ statements and that she would not either.

Politicians’ statements definitely harm the perception of DORH’s autonomy, she said.

Her deputy Darko Klier said that Zagreb’s Remetinec prison was overcrowded “thanks to us and not thanks to either the president or the prime minister.”

Hrvoj Sipek said that efforts were being made to establish how information leaks occurred, noting that when a decision is made to launch a preliminary investigation, that decision becomes available to a broad circle of people.

DORH conducts internal controls because it knows that a very narrow circle of people working for the prosecution work on those cases and their identity is well-known, Hrvoj Sipek said, adding that she as the State Attorney did not know what all preliminary investigations conducted by the anti-corruption office USKOK were about as there was no need for that, but that DORH and people working to collect evidence spend months or a year on surveillance measures and establishing the facts and have no interest in leaking information to the public.

“I can guarantee that information on the JANAF case was not leaked by DORH,” she said.

She went on to say that her office was dealing courageously with cases of corruption and organised crime but instead of being commended for it, it was being criticised as being incompetent and following the dictate of politics.

This is disappointing because people working in DORH are doing their best to efficiently prosecute crime, an embittered Hrvoj Sipek said.

USKOK director Vanja Marusic said it was not easy and simple to discover how information is leaked.

It is one thing to have circumstantial evidence and another to have hard evidence of a person’s involvement in a crime or having disclosed an official secret, she said.

Asked why investigators had not raided the club run by former JANAF CEO Dragan Kovacevic when they realised that a bribe was being handed over, Marusic said that investigators had to collect sufficient evidence to ask for an arrest warrant, otherwise the court would not issue it.