The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina handed down the first-instance verdict in Jerko Ivankovic-Lijanovic et al case on Monday, sentencing the defendants to a total of 52 years in prison. Ivankovic-Lijanovic assessed the court decision as political.
The indictment charged him and his group of organised crime, money laundering and tax evasion. Ivankovic-Lijanovic alone was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined with 50,000 Bosnian marks (approx. EUR 25,000).
Ivankovic-Lijanovic is a former agriculture minister of Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity and the state presidency candidate in Bosnia’s October 7 general election. In the first statement following the verdict, he said this was a political decision and that he would continue fighting.
“I am very sorry that the Bosnia and Herzegovina Court’s Chamber succumbed to political influence and tried to render a verdict for something I didn’t do. This is obviously a continuation of political pressure for me to give up on political engagement,” he stressed.
“The path to justice and truth is long and hard but I believe it is achievable and that such verdicts based on political influence will be annulled at higher court instances,” Ivankovic-Lijnovic noted adding that he would continue fighting until the end.
The indictment was issued in 2015 against 16 persons including the members of Lijanovic family, owners of ‘Lijanovici’ meat processing company, charging them with acting as a group in the period from 2007 to 2012, founding companies with the minimum capital of up to BAM 2,000 (approx EUR 1,000) and transferring the raw materials, products and equipment to those new companies while keeping the huge tax debts with the older companies.
According to the indictment, they gained the profit of some BAM 13.5 million (EUR 6.8 million) while inflicting the damage to the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina was in the same amount.
Ivankovic-Lijanovic did not attend the verdict pronouncement.
(EUR 1 = BAM 1.95)