Bosnia's top judicial official, Milan Tegeltija, was treated as a witness in the alleged corruption investigation, and the man who reported the case and recorded himself allegedly giving the money to a police officer for a favour from Tegeltija, will be treated as a suspect, the State Prosecution said on Wednesday.
“Regarding the investigation, after conducting an investigation and gathering evidence, the prosecution decided to investigate Marko Pandza (the police officer who took the alleged bribe) and Nermin Alesevic (a businessman who reported and recorded the incident)on the suspicion of receiving and giving gifts or other forms of benefits,” the Prosecution said, adding that the suspect Alesevic will also be subject to criminal investigation of unauthorized surveillance and audio recording.
Last month, Bosnian investigative news portal Zurnal published a text, saying they have a video allegedly showing Nermin Alesevic, a businessman from Bosnia's northern town of Velika Kladusa, giving some €1,000 to an officer called Marko Pandza, from the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) – Bosnia's special police.
Zurnal wrote that Pandza was allegedly supposed to give the money to Milan Tegeltija, the head of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) which appoints judges and prosecutors and disciplines them, who would then look intoAlesevic's case.
Tegeltija denied the allegations as false and malicious, announcing a lawsuit against the portal for slander. He then requested protection from the Bosnia's Directorate for Coordination of Police Bodies after Bosnia's Security Minister Dragan Mektic called for protests in front of the HJPC building in Sarajevo.
Immediately after the Prosecution's announcement, the US Embassy reacted saying the prosecution should investigate corruption and misuse of position, and not those who report the wrongdoings.
“Accountable and independent institutions need to investigate corruption and misuse of position, not those working to uncover the wrongdoings themselves. A free press and investigative journalism play an important role in defending public interest in a democracy,” US Embassy tweeted.
Accountable and independent institutions need to investigate corruption and misuse of position, not those working to uncover the wrongdoings themselves. A free press and investigative journalism play an important role in defending public interest in a democracy.— US Embassy Sarajevo (@USEmbassySJJ)June 19, 2019