Bosnia’s international administrator said on Thursday that he is surprised by the decision of the Disciplinary Commission of the institution overseeing the country’s judiciary to dismiss a suspension request filed against its head pending an investigation into allegations that he was involved in bribery.
Milan Tegeltija, the head of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) - the institution overseeing Bosnia’s judiciary - was recently captured in a secretly recorded video that suggests he was promising a client to help with a case while a policemanafterward asked for money allegedly on his behalf.
Local online magazine Zurnal published the video of a meeting between Tegeltija, state police officer Marko Pandza and businessman Nermin Alesevic. It appears to be showing Alesevic handing the money to Pandza but does not contain footage of Tegeltija taking it over. Tegeltija cannot be heard asking for any money directly.
After the video was published, Tegeltija told N1 that the footage actually proves his innocence.
But the Disciplinary Commission's Office filed on Friday a complaint against him and asked for him to be suspended pending the investigation, alleging that Tegeltija’s behavior “represents serious breaching of the official position and puts public trust in the impartiality and credibility of the judiciary into question.”
The Commission said the claims are not valid.
“Such a situation is unacceptable,” said the High Representative, Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko, who was named by the international community to oversee the civilian implementation of the agreement which ended Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war and contains the Constitution.
Inzko said that, in practice, the decision grants immunity to all members of the HJPC.
The law states that an HJPC members must be suspended if they would be suspended as a judges, since judges and prosecutors named to the HJPC “represent the judge and prosecutor profession.”
“They are members of the Council because they are judges and prosecutors and that is why they are to be judged according to the standards as stated in the Law on the HJPC,” he said.
Inzko appealed to the HJPC to take all necessary steps to fix the situation and once again builds up public trust in the institution.
He also called on the government to continue revising the laws in order to ensure that the HJPC works as “an independent and professional institution.”