Croatia: prolific anticorruption writer – sentenced for extortion!

Sasa Radovic Photo: Novi List

Recently, I wrote about Natasha Srdoc’s H-21 Party candidate (at last year’s elections in Croatia) Sasa Radovic and the criminal proceedings before a court in Zagreb against him for extortion/blackmail.

On 18 June Judge Zorislav Kaleb sentenced Radovic to two years imprisonment for extortion. In his explanation Judge Kaleb stated that the court found that Radovic had committed the crime of blackmail, as evidenced by witness testimonies and audio recordings. The extortion or blackmail took the form of Radovic demanding large amount of money from general Ivan Cermak, so that Radovic would not publish allegations of corruption against Cermak, etc (see my previous post on the matter). The minimum sentence for such a crime is three years but given Radovic’s age (72), his status as war veteran and no previous convictions, the sentence was reduced to two years.

It is expected that Radovic will appeal this judgment and sentence. That is the process to which he has a right under Croatia’s laws.

An interesting (and to some – irritating) sideshow continues when it comes to this case.

The sideshow is that Natasha Srdoc’s Adriatic Institute for Public Policy on it’s Facebook page continues to call Radovic a political prisoner of Croatia, accusing Croatia of having politically influenced judiciary and an unreformed police structure. Furthermore it strongly suggests that Radovic did not have a fair trial. In the same breath  it goes further and calls Croatia a “mafia state”.

I guess Natasha Srdoc and her followers could do themselves (and everybody else) a lot of good and join in Radovic’s appeal of the above sentence and judgment, on grounds of bias or unfair trial. They would, of course, as in any court of any democratic country, need to spell out those grounds. They’ve already said it was not a fair trial – without stating the details of their claim – so why not get in on the action in court, or provide those details to Radovic’s defence.

Making blanket offensive, insulting and vilifying statements like “mafia state” certainly won’t prove that Radovic’s trial was unfair, or fair for that matter. Trial by vilifying or slandering the whole state of Croatia in the media (e.g. facebook) doesn’t do anyone any good.  To my way of looking at it, it is profoundly unprofessional, mean and cruel to label a whole country as a “mafia state”.

I do not have details of Radovic’s defence during the trial and what evidence, arguments and testimonies his defence may have put before the court but I think I can safely assume that he did have a defence and that it failed to convince the court in its favour. This is the Croatia I know; not different to any other court in the civilised and democratised world.

There seems to be the feeling that some people, including members of H-21 Century Party, are convinced that Radovic is being “persecuted” because he exposed widespread corruption and war-profiteering by Croatia’s political, military and business “elite”.

To my knowledge the truth of the contents (corruption and war profiteering allegations) of Radovic’s books has not been tested in court yet and, hence, I am not in the position to comment either way. But, even if they represent the truth, that does not remove the possibility that the author of the books (Radovic) had himself acted abominably dishonestly – engaged in extortion and blackmail as the court judgment says. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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