Croatia: Corruption And Bribery – Former President Stjepan Mesic Named In Finnish Indictment?

Stjepan Mesic Patria

One of the largest bribery/corruption cases on the international scene are the Finnish State Prosecutor’s cases of corruption and bribery against managers of Patria armoured personnel carriers contracts that has already in its offshoots seen the Slovenian former Prime Minister Janez Jansa behind bars since June 2013.

Croatia’s former president, Stjepan Mesic, has for a couple of years or so been denying any involvement in the Patria Arms deal alleged corruption with Croatia during the years of his presidential mandate. He has consistently distanced himself from the deal and only too swiftly accused the media of underhanded malice and lies at any mention of suspicion against him. Indeed, he called it all a political witch hunt and work of a political intelligence!.

And now – during the past week – it looks as though something significant and criminal may truly have occurred because the Finnish Prosecutor, according to Croatia’s news portal Vecernji List, has just commenced with preliminary hearings at court against three Patria managers. The allegations against the three Patria managers reportedly include that Croatian former President and Prime Minister were given bribes and the Finnish indictment against Patria managers alleges that the bribery deal was reportedly as follows:

The former Croatian president Stjepan Mesic 1% (cca 630,000 Euro), to the former Croatian Prime Minister Franjo Greguric also 1% and to the director of Croatian company Djuro Djakovic, Bartol Jerkovic, 2% of the bribe for “helping” in the sales deal of Patria armoured personnel carriers to Croatia. The initial bribe amount was reported to have been 20 million Euro but as the number of vehicles purchased by Croatia had been reduced the bribery amount is reported to have ended up being 3.1 million Euro!

The claim against the three Patria managers is now a public document and Vecernji List writes that the Finnish Prosecutor Jukka Rappe emphasises, once again, that the Finnish side has not nor does it have the jurisdiction to confirm the guilt of Croatian citizens in the matter and that they have not confirmed yet as to whether the persons named in the claim (Mesic, Greguric, Jerkovic) had received the bribes and that the investigation into these bribes is in the hands of the Croatian Attorney General’s office (DORH). The trial in this case commences in Finland in September.

The Finnish Prosecutor Rappe has reportedly stated in public that this case is very complex because some accounts were falsified, and they do not know everything that was paid for!

Well, well, well – if these claims prove to be true, it does not surprise me at all that there seems to be a lack of records for what was paid for to Croatia where Stjepan Mesic is implicated. It all sounds to me very much like the “little” sad story of Stjepan Mesic and the obviously highly suspect trail of money for humanitarian aid to Croatia given to him in 1992 in Australia to take to Croatia and have the cheques for tens of thousands of dollars in the name of Croatian National Fund deposited in the bank in Austria. To my knowledge (and I have had access to the relevant bank account statements of the time), the cheques never got deposited in the bank, no one knows to this day where the money went, Mesic had claimed that he forgot about carrying the cheques, that when he discovered one in the pocket of his coat after one year from returning from a trip to Australia, then, some 15 years after the fact, he remembered giving that cheque to the then parliamentary speaker Zarko Domljan to use for the renovations of the Croatian government offices bombed by Serbs in 1992! I doubt that the cheque was given to Domljan or money spent for renovations, but even if it were the case one must ask the question: how was it possible for someone like him – who was NOT a signatory to the cheques’ beneficiary bank account – to actually cash the cheques or use them for another purpose than the one the funds were raised for among Croats in the diaspora!?


To my understanding and knowledge this could only have been done through corruption. And, of course, if the cheque was given to Domljan, then it would have been cashed by persons other than those who were signatories to the bank account to which the cheque was made (the Croatian National Fund bank account in Austria has been reported as not having processed the cheques in question at all!). Mesic never explained  how this was possible, let alone the awful and corrupt reality (if it’s true that he gave the cheques to Domljan) in which he admits he decided to use other people’s money (donations for a specific and different cause) for purposes he himself decided upon without any reference whatsoever to those who donated the funds!


It is utterly gut wrenching to think that Croatian authorities may still not have taken it upon themselves to investigate these war profiteering allegations connected with Mesic, which have been in the public arena with what one could easily conclude a great amount of evidence for the past 15 years, at least.


I wonder if he saw to a similar scenario when it comes to moneys that came in from Patria arms deal, siphoning off the bribery cash into private pockets? Perhaps not, perhaps yes – in any case these are allegations that must be investigated regardless of any investigation’s outcome for they are within the public interest domain.

So, is the Croatian Attorney General’s office – DORH – going to investigate the allegations of bribery by the Finnish Prosecutor, or is it investigating it already? Certainly, the possible excuse for not doing anything in Croatia about these allegations in the form of “the Finnish courts have not finished yet…” would be utterly pathetic. Slovenia had investigated the alleged solicitation of bribes while signing a defense contract with the Finnish company Patria for a supply of armoured vehicles, its former PM went to jail for it so – where are the investigations in Croatia of allegations that former president Stjepan Mesic and former PM Franjo Greguric may have been involved in bribes from Patria, then!?

Of course, as usual, Mesic vehemently denies any wrongdoing! So, does Greguric. But that is no excuse for Attorney General’s office (DORH) to stay on the sides and not investigate these serious allegations of bribery now reportedly included in the indictment documents against three Patria managers put to Finnish court by the State Prosecutor. If Croatia’s former attorney general, Mladen Bajic, did nothing then perhaps the recently appointed Dinko Cvitan will?

The District Court in Hämeenlinna, Finland, had at end of January 2014, handed down the first decision in a Finnish court on the latest Patria bribery case. Patria, a majority state-owned defence contractor, was accused of paying bribes to Slovenian officials in connection with an armoured vehicles deal. The court rejected the charges, though it said a reasonable doubt remained. The Finnish State Prosecutor has lodged an appeal against this decision with a higher court, requesting the integration of the Slovene and Croatian Patria bribery cases into a single trial.

It’s high time Croatian office of state attorney – DORH – rolled up its sleeves on this matter and investigates it just as Slovenia investigated their part! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Related Posts:

Croatia EU membership referendum campaigns: Blackmail and sweet-talk (Yes to EU) Vs sovereignty and self-determination (No to EU)

Media grabs – days before Croatian referendum

Bloomberg: “Croatia’s drive to join the European Union may stall as citizens are split over whether accession will drag the former Yugoslav republic into a debt crisis and erode its sovereignty.

Croatians will head to the polls on Jan. 22 on whether the Balkan country should proceed with its planned July 2013 entry into the 27-nation bloc. Support was at 53 percent in a poll published last night by IPSOS-Puls, making it possible a re-vote will be needed before EU members begin ratification.”

Neven Mimica, Croatia’s deputy Prime Minister: “Membership in EU is an opportunity of the millennium which we need to take for the future of Croatian generations”.

Vesna Pusic, Croatia’s Foreign Minister: “ I wouldn’t want to be too cruel, but if we don’t enter the Union, you’re not going to receive your pension.”

Vesna Pusic – again: “If we vote against EU membership, we lose credit rating that same week. That means we’re not capable of repaying our debts. Pensions depend on healthy economy. If you cannot repay your debts, your interest rises. Things are very simple…”

Carl Bildt, Swedish Foreign minister: “the Kingdom of Sweden has continuously supported Croatia in her path to EU membership … Croatian voice will be important in the EU Council of ministers and wider. All countries have economic problems, but it’s much easier if we solve them together.”

Carl Bildt – again: “It was Sweden itself that had during the 1990’s experienced a deep crisis, and after the referendum in 1994 and entering the EU it had achieved spectacular results.

Vladimir Drobnjak, Croatia’s chief negotiator with the EU: “citizens should not fear the EU, because Croatia can always leave the Union… it should not be forgotten that the EU today accounts for 20% of the world economy, while 7% of the world’s population lives within its borders”.

New York Times: Zoran Sluga: „Some Croatians joke … that joining (the European Union) now is like arriving at the party at 2 a.m. Half the revelers are drunk. Half have gone home.“

Tportal news Croatia: Movement for Croatia – NO EU has submitted to the Chief government prosecutor Mladen Bajic a criminal complaint against the foreign minister Vesna Pusic – citing threats against voters

Marin Skribola: “You’ve destroyed the future of our young people, you should be ashamed of yourselves. EU is a dungeon for Croatian people.

TEAM group: “Croatian government was obligated to accept Euro and enter the European monetary union. To give such promise in the worst moment of Euro struggling with the crisis is unreasonable act that has no sense. Croatian government should have asked for the possibility of not accepting Euro as Denmark and Great Britain did. Without that option we advise Croatian citizens to vote against Croatia joining the EU”.

Matea Despot/translation: “It (Croatia) will have to provide enough police officers for effective control according to Schengen standards and the best practice of the EU. When it becomes a part of the Schengen area, Croatia will in fact become the guard of the borders of the EU.

Therefore, it is very important that Croatia is able to defend its border from illegal crossings of immigrants, smugglers and criminals.

There will be some big changes in lives of people who live near the border. Just remember Slovenia entering the Schengen area when there were gates on the roads and the citizens got the keys to the gates, so that the traffic could go on. The Schengen regime will certainly complicate some people’s lives. We witnessed the situation with Italy where immigrants were coming from Africa by boats to their coast. Their aim was to enter the wide Schengen area through Italy and to go to France, Germany and other countries.”

Tomislav Kosic: “Croatia would lose its sovereignty and would be governed by neo-liberal capitalists … Croatia’s farmers may not be able to compete in the larger agricultural community in older EU nations”.

Ivica Marijacic: “Keep in your sight the advantages and disadvantages and make a responsible decision. By all means remember the innocent generals Gotovina and Cermak, and if you think that this is a minor concession worthy of EU, ask yourself, would you hand over a member of your family for a promise of a better life”.

Dr. Ruzica Cavar: “So, Croatians, let’s not betray our victims for independence and freedom!…At the referendum let’s circle the ‘NO’”

Prof. dr.Josip Pecaric: “We invite all Croatian citizens who care about the truth, pride and the dignity of Croatian people, who care abouit the truth of the Homeland War, who care about the freedom of the deserving and innocent generals to vote against Croatian membership in EU, not only at this referendum but, eventually, at a repeated one until just judgments are delivered for the Croatian generals, and that is freedom.”  

Prof. dr. sc. Davor Pavuna: “To trust in the fairness of EU-bureaucrats is to trust Dracula with the transfusion of one’s own blood – the lasting solution for EU is a Europe of sovereign nations”.

Tensions grow by the minute in Croatia, days before the referendum on EU membership. Just a relatively small selection of grabs from the media suggest  that conscience vote will indeed play a large part on Sunday 22 January. While the pro-EU campaigns (government controlled) clutch at straws, bringing in the EU battalions who talk sweet and pamper the mainstream politicians egos (who by the way are resorting to blatant blackmail), the against-EU provide, in my opinion, a far better food for democratic thought: it’s not only the hard earned sovereignty but also the stark reality of economic insecurity that joining the EU at this time may surely bring. Let’s hope voters turn up in overwhelming numbers, just as they did in 1991 at the referendum for independence from communist Yugoslavia. Ina Vukic, Prof.(Zgb), B.A.,M.A.Ps.(Syd)

If not Josip Boljkovac, who then?

Josip Boljkovac , communist/partisan/antifascist WWII, was arrested on 2 November on allegations of war crimes including mass murders immediately after WWII ended 1945. Since then he had been in custody while the criminal investigative process against him completes, due to ill health the 91 year old was transferred to prison hospital care.

On 16 Nov Boljkovac’s defence attorney filed an application with the Croatian Constitutional court citing that it was wrong of the Croatian Ministry of internal affairs to apply the old criminal investigation procedure law instead of the new one (in force since 1 September 2011). Boljkovac’s application was allowed and he has been released home on 29 November.

County court in Croatia has a few days prior denied Boljkovac’s application that there was no in merit previous order for criminal investigation against him.

The County court held that allegations of war crimes against Boljkovac were based on sound evidentiary foundations and upheld the courts decision to continue custody for Boljkovac.

The Constitutional court had 28 November concluded that criminal investigation against Boljkovac must be carried out in accordance with the new law.  According to the new law it’s much harder to obtain a custodial order during criminal investigation or prior to final criminal charges being made.

Boljkovac has been released from custody and criminal investigation against him stopped.

The situation now stands that, in accordance with the new law, the State attorney commences a criminal investigation and not the Minister for internal affairs. It would seem that a request to the State attorney for an investigation must now be lodged by a County attorney.

Boljkovac’s defence attorney, Anto Nobilo, stated for Croatian TV HRT that he himself has conducted his own investigation into the mass murders in 1945 Boljkovac had been suspected of having committed.

“I guarantee that Boljkovac did not participate in those crimes,” said Nobilo. He further said that he knows who had committed those crimes and that he will hand over his file to the State attorney in the next day.[tt_news]=140932&tx_ttnews[backPid]=38&cHash=d569a18a28

Knowing Nobilo’s pro-communist stand from the past I do hope that the State attorney will start an independent investigation of his own.

If Mr Nobilo knows who committed those heinous crimes Boljkovac was suspected of committing why did he not pass that information to relevant authorities in Croatia before. Surely he didn’t discover the claimed evidence just as he approached the media microphones as Boljkovac came out of custody.

Whether there really was a purposeful procedural error or not still remains debatable despite the Constitutional court’s decision.  Within a short space of time this month a County court continues his incarceration and Constitutional court cancels this decision. Perhaps there was no error made in applying the old criminal procedures law at all, November 2011 may well have been within the transitional period between the old and full force of the new law? Or something entirely different may be afoot.

Certainly the two separate courts decided differently within the same month and it’s not as if both of these courts weren’t aware of the new law. At the end of the day the Constitutional court’s ruling and interpretation of procedural matters must prevail, that’s democracy at work, court hierarchy.

Minister for internal affairs Tomislav Karamarko denies that old criminal procedures act was applied in Boljkovac case.

Boljkovac and his antifascist followers are on a vicious ride against the Minister of internal affairs (police) Karamarko again, using the criminal procedures mix-up as grounds for political persecution of those who dared to throw criminal allegations of war crimes and mass murders against former communists. Indeed Boljkovac says that the truth conquered, that he is innocent and that he believed in justice.

But, wait a minute!

There was no hearing of evidence against him in the court, it was only a procedural matter that was before the court.  Karamarko has been called a liar, a falsifier of history …( , just because he had commenced , based on evidence before him, criminal proceedings against a person (Boljkovac).

A justified concern arises from the fact that Croatian State attorney Mladen Bajic has been seen by the Croatian public in recent  weeks as being biased, as treating different criminal matters before him differently and selectively, as being politically biased etc .

This week an impressively large and educated group of 750 people (over 100 of scientists and university professors) in Croatia signed an Appeal to the Croatian public and handed it to the Prime Minister and various media outlets.

Whether the public at large for whom the Appeal was intended will ever see the contents of that appeal is, frankly, on shaky grounds.

The signatories concluded their appeal by stating several opinions and demands including that they stand for free and critical journalism, based on general human values which will open up horizons of democracy and not create conditions for self-interest and political party victories.

The appeal’s title is: “Let’s oppose the media manipulation” and some of the content is translated into English as follows:

Media are forces above the Croatian society. They’re not accountable to anyone except to profit and to the invisible centres of political power. To that end everything is allowed them, from treading over human dignity to various forms of manipulation and undermining of the Croatian state. There is practically no space in the media for arguments. The public is fed on half-information and misinformation without any responsibility for the written word. All sectors of society are being infected by cunning manipulation. While there are official avenues that deal with some infections but there are neither repercussions nor sanctions for the attacks against personal integrity…Initially they attacked the values of the Homeland war, then they distanced the émigrés, who were prepared to return to Croatia, then Croatian national institutions, who had been torn apart by carefully assembled affairs, what wasn’t torn apart was “blackened”, then the family, and to top it all up they want to compromise the Catholic church with lies, that is, Christianity which has held the Croatian people together in these regions for thirteen centuries.

 State attorney in the media. The State attorney, who selectively lets certain cases slip through his fingers, eroding the democratic achievements of our country and turning into a power to whom one must bow, has entered into the brace with the media. Constant stigmatisation and criminalisation that appears every day in the media space creates a picture that there is nothing good in the Croatian society. But it’s not going to be like that, because if it was like that the Croatian society would have perished a long time ago. There are positive events in Croatia, scientific successes and achievements, economic breakthroughs, but they have no space in the media given that the media has given itself the task to show to both the domestic and the international public how impossible Croatia is.  There are those in this trail who are already saying that “we’re not in the position to hold, create, shape and lead the country”. What is the message – we need to be returned to the Balkan dungeon or melt within the European Union.

 There is no free press in Croatia. Newspapers are a strictly closed and controlled space which has the task of creating a certain type of thinking and behaving, greedy for consumption and ideologically coloured, to always hate their own, prefer and admire the foreign. German scientist K. Buecher, asserted in the last century that “from being organisations that report news, newspapers have turned into carriers and leaders of public opinion, into battle instrument for party politics”. Croatian newspapers had never stopped being that – they are today the most obvious instrument for party politics, national values and national interests are strangers to them.

 Appeal regarding Croatian media November 2011 in Croatian language

Having considered all of the above I wonder: is apprehended bias something we are witnessing in Boljkovac’s case?  Are such thoughts justified in the face of overwhelming and often vicious attempts by antifascists to cut at its knees the process of justice for victims of communist crimes?

With above descriptions of State attorney’s behaviour and procedural favouritism when it comes to criminal cases is one not justified to live in apprehension, fear injustice, until such a day when the war crimes of Boljkovac/not Boljkovac are actually addressed with due process?

Will the ghost of Tito conquer, yet again, and victims of communist mass murders remain without justice?

When communism fell in Eastern Europe in 1989 it did so at the consternation of the leftists. That is, the leftists who still thought socialism could work given the right leaders.

Indeed communism would not have survived 70 years were it not for the facilitating academia, blind faith in communism, religion and journalism. Lloyd Billingsley, 1985 in “The Generation That Knew Not Josef: A Critique of Marxism and the Religious Left” talks about these.

The current situation in Croatian media as put in the above Appeal to the Croatian public supports the apprehension that processing communist crimes is a political matter and not a matter for justice and justice only.

I look forward to discovering who, if not Boljkovac, had murdered the innocent Croatians in 1945 Boljkovac was arrested for at beginning of November and walks free for at the end of it, due to a procedural matter allegedly bungled in the criminal investigation against him.

I wait in uneasy anticipation to see what bag of “goodies” the defence attorney Ante Nobilo has come up with this time! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb), B.A., M.A. Ps. (Syd)

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