Chief State Attorney Jelenić choosing new head of USKOK among three candidates

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29.10.2018.

Zagreb, 300310.
Drzavno odvjetnistvo Ured za suzbijanje korupcije i organiziranog kriminaliteta.
Bivsi potpredsjednik Vlade i ministar gospodarstva Damir Polancec koji je uhicen jutros u obiteljskoj kuci u Koprivnici danas bi trebao biti sproveden u USKOK. Polanceca se navodno tereti za povezanost u aferi Podravka.
Zgrada USKOK-a u Gajevoj.
Foto: Ronald Gorsic / CROPIX
Ronald Goršić / CROPIX

Arhivska fotografija

Unnamed sources from the DORH say Vanja Marušić has best chances of the three female candidates.

This week, Chief State Attorney Dražen Jelinić should pick the new head of the Office for Fight Against Corruption and Organized Crime (USKOK) to head the office in the next four years. The USKOK has not had a formally appointed head more than six months, since the four-year term of former USKOK head Tamara Laptoš expired, who was appointed to the post in April 2014.

Appointment delayed

After her term expired, Laptoš was appointed acting head for six months. This period ended on 16 October, some 10 days ago. Unnamed sources revealed that Jelinić will have to choose between three female candidates - former acting head Tamara Laptoš, county State attorney from Rijeka and former deputy head of the USKOK Vanja Marušić, and head of USKOK Rijeka Office and investigative judge Sajonara Čulina. The three, as we have learned, are running for the position, with Chief State Attorney choosing between the three. According to regulations on USKOK, Chief State Attorney will consult with his deputies and Justice Minister before picking between the three. However, it was not possible to find out what the Minister and Chief State Attorney's deputies suggested. Irrespective of which of the three get the hot seat in the USKOK, they are all very famous prosecutors. Tamara Laptoš came to the position of deputy head of USKOK in 2007 from Čakovac County State Attorney's Office and son started working on large economic crime cases. The wider public learned about her as prosecutor from two cases - prosecution of former Deputy Prime Minister Damir Polančec in the fictitious study and Spice cases as well as her role as prosecutor in the Hypo case against former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader.

Cooperation

Laptoš was appointed head of prosecution in the USKOK for her work in April 2011. One month later, in June 2011, the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) declared Laptoš as prosecutor of the year. Vanja Marušić from Rijeka, who has been serving as Rijeka county State attorney for three and half year, came under public spotlight as prosecutor in likely the most ambitious anti-corruption case, the INA-MOL case where Sanader and Hungarian MOL oil company CEO Zsolt Hernádi are on trial for sale of INA oil company. Before taking the position in Rijeka, Marušić worked as deputy head of the USKOK in Zagreb for years. Besides the INA-MOL, she worked on cases dealing with bribery in the Hrvatska elektroprivreda (HEP) power utility and the Monting Pim case. Since Hypo and INA-MOL cases were merged for a while, Laptoš and Marušić cooperated as prosecutors at the first trial against Sanader, where, as we know, Sanader was found guilty, but the Constitutional Court overturned the ruling.

Sajonara Čulina was an investigative judge before coming to the USKOK. She launched and headed the investigation against Gen. Mirko Norac (ret.) for war crimes committed against civilians Gospić. As head of the USKOK in Rijeka, she was responsible for a series of well-known cases in the Rijeka area, Istria and Primorje, and headed some of the cases herself. Among other, these cases were focused on breaking up large international drug trafficking chains, like the two cases against drug lord Stjepan Prnjat, with the second one ending some six months ago. Besides that, she worked on cases like the Ipsilon, where entrepreneur Dražen Golemović was convicted on corruption charges, the bribery case of cardio surgeon Ognjen Šimić in Rijeka and more. Even though all three candidates are very capable and experienced prosecutors, several unnamed sources well informed about the situation in the DORH confirmed for us that Vanja Marušić has best chances of being appointed. They added that majority of Chief State Attorney's deputies support her. We concluded that Jelinić could opt for a reshuffle at the helm of the USKOK from his statements made after appointments. "We have an acting head appointed by Cvitan. I think that move of his was very correct towards whoever succeeds him. The new Chief State Attorney must have the freedom to appoint the person he believes can do the job," said Jelinić responding to questions of Sabor deputies.

Cvitan's choice

He told reporters he would talk to Laptoš, who is currently the acting head.

"USKOK head is the first operative and there must be trust between USKOK head and Chief State Attorney. They must 'click.' Jelinić's predecessor Dinko Cvitan appointed Laptoš as acting head, who wanted to appoint her for a four-year term just days before the end of his term. However, he opted for temporary appointment to leave room for his successor to choose the head of the USKOK.

Inačica na drugom jeziku / Alternate language version