Convicted football mogul says he will not return to Croatia

Convicted football mogul says he will not return to Croatia Izvor: N1

The former Croatian football club boss Zdravko Mamic, who came to Bosnia a day before he was sentenced for financial crimes by a Croatian court, told N1 that he would not return to Croatia, even if it was a matter of life and death.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's Interpol office has on Wednesday received the Croatian request for Mamic's arrest. 

Mamic, his brother Zoran, former Dinamo director Damir Vrbanovic and tax official Milan Pernar have been found guilty of siphoning about 116 million kuna (€15.7 million) from Dinamo and defrauding the state budget of about 12.2 million kuna (€1.6 million) in unpaid taxes and surtaxes.

Mamic was sentenced to six and a half years in prison, his brother Zoran to four years and 11 months, Pernar to four years and two months, and Vrbanovic to three years.

The former Dinamo club boss is currently located in the Bosnian town of Medjugorje, as he has dual citizenship. According to its Constitution, Bosnia and Herzegovina does not extradite its citizens.

Mamic denied all charges against him and told N1 that he had paid 780,000 Euro into Croatia's state budget. He called the case a "setup". The case would fall flat at the European Court of Human Rights, he said.

"I haven't been hiding since the first minute of my stay in Medjugorje. I publicly said I was here," Mamic said, saying he was available to Bosnian media since the ruling was handed down.

The ex Dinamo boss said he was "not prepared for this situation", but that his father initiated the citizenship procedure for Bosnia 15 years ago.

"I did not think that I need to get those documents, although I have a proof of Bosnian citizenship," he said. "On the second day I went to Tomislavgrad and to the police station, like every other citizen. They sent me to the municipal office and I filled out all I had to. I paid what needed to be paid. I am expecting them to call me within the next 15 days and for them to hand me over my documents, like for every other citizen," he said.

When asked how come that he is now labeled a criminal in Croatia after being known as the "king of Croatian sports", Mamic said it was a product of wrongdoing within Croatia's judicial system.

"Until Monday I was 300 percent certain I would be freed of the charges," he said.

"Then I came across documents, transcripts of conversations within Croatia's State Prosecutor's Office (...)," Mamic said, accusing former Croatian State Prosecutor Dinko Cvitan of threatening judges into convicting him.

Mamic said that he expects Croatian authorities will say the transcripts in his possession are fake.

"I understood what was going on and I decided to go into exile, to go to my other country - Bosnia and Herzegovina. (I wanted) to make use of the possibility of defending the reputation and honour of me and my friends and 'Dinamo' more efficiently as a free person," he said.

When asked if he plans to stay in Bosnia until the final ruling, which may take years, Mamic said "he has no choice".

"Whether I want to or not, whether I planned it or not, I have to fight the battle for my innocence and freedom from Bosnia," he said.

He accused Croatia's Social Democratic Party (SDP) of being behind the trial against him. He said he was being "extorted" by Croatia's Prosecutor's Office and political actors. More specifically, he accused "people from the SDP led by former Interior Minister who served two terms, Ranko Ostojic".

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