Transparency International in Bosnia (TI) submitted a criminal complaint against the Serb member of the tripartite Presidency, Milorad Dodik, after he revealed that opposition politicians in Bosnia’s Serb-majority region had been wiretapped.
TI said on Thursday that the complaint alleges that “there are grounds for suspicion that, as an official, he committed the criminal offence of Unauthorized Wiretapping and Sound or Optical Recording,” after Dodik told lawmakers in the semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity that he listened in on their phone conversations.
Dodik, who is the leader of the ruling Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), made the statement as he spoke to opposition lawmaker Drasko Stanivukovic, from the Party for Democratic Progress (PDP).
He revealed that Stanivukovic will not be the joint opposition candidate for the position of the Banja Luka mayor because he does not have the SDS support, adding he knows this because he “listened” to their conversation.
He then asked Stanivukovic and SDS lawmaker Nebojsa Vukanovic whether it is true that one of them owes money to the other.
“Here, ask these people from the SDS about it, I listen to their phone conversations so I know. I have the right to listen to those. Once you are president, you will also have that right,” Dodik said.
Dodik then asked the RS Interior Minister and member of his Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), Dragan Lukac, to confirm that he submits the wiretaps to him.
“There is no government that doesn’t wiretap the opposition. So do we. Complain to Transparency (International), to your father, to whomever you want. I have the right to listen,” he said.
According to TI, “monitoring and technical recording of telecommunications represent special investigative actions, and their execution requires court approval” and it is a procedure “that is applied under exceptional circumstances” which neither Presidency members nor the RS Interior Minister have competencies over.
TI also argued that OSA, Bosnia’s secret service, is responsible for collecting data regarding security threats and can only submit that information to the Presidency as an institution, which means to all three Presidency member collectively.
“This data can refer to security threats such as terrorism and organized crime and certainly should not refer to the political activities of the opposition. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republika Srpska has no authority over the collection of intelligence data, and that is why the statement of Milorad Dodik that he received the data of the wiretapped conversations from the Minister of Internal Affairs Dragan Lukac is worrying,” TI said.
The organisation also said that “this is not the first time that Milorad Dodik uses threats in his political speeches” and that it has already submitted criminal complaints against the Bosnian Serb leader before.
“Not one Prosecutor’s Office has initiated an investigation against him so far,” it said.
The organisation also said that Dodik has this time “admitted that he is setting up the foundation for a totalitarian state with the illegal wiretapping of his political opponents” and that prosecutors must look into allegations that “para-intelligence agencies which are run by entity police minister Dragan Lukac” have been formed in the country.