It is crucial that criminal allegations against public officials are fully addressed, the Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia, Bruce Berton said for N1, commenting on allegations by Bosnian investigative outlet Zurnal that the country's top judicial official took bribe on several occasions to look into cases.
"When criminal allegations arise against judicial officials, it further damages the already fragile trust of the public in the judiciary. It is therefore crucial that allegations are fully addressed. As all persons enjoy the right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) calls upon competent authorities to fulfil their duties and obligations to conduct unbiased and thorough investigations," Berton said. "Where necessary, this may need to involve additional measures to ensure there are no conflicts of interests."
According to the Zurnal web portal, an officer called Marko Pandza, from the State Investigation and Protection Agency – Bosnia's special police, took the money on behalf of the Head of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council Milan Tegeltija who would then, allegedly, speed up investigations into cases.
The portal wrote that Pandza took some €1,000 from a man who was tried so that Tegeltija could speed-up the investigation. Tegeltija denied these allegations and announced a lawsuit against the portal for slander.
The HJPC is in charge of appointing Bosnia's judges and prosecutors and disciplining them.