Croatian Anti-Corruption Police Arrest Head of State TV

Several close associates of Zagreb’s former mayor, including the head of the state media HRT, were arrested in Croatia on suspicion of corruption, bribery and abuse of power.

HRT BuildingZaghreb's building of the Croatian National TV (HRT), whose director Kazimir Bačić has been suspected of “committing the criminal offenses of ‘bribery for trading in influence’ and ‘trading in influence.’ (Photo: Suradnik13, Wikimedia, License)The arrests on Wednesday were made, according to HRT, by Croatia's anti-graft body, the Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime (USKOK), after months of monitoring people under suspicion of corrupt activities in the previous administration.

Kazimir Bačić, the director of HRT, is suspected of “committing the criminal offenses of ‘bribery for trading in influence’ and ‘trading in influence,’” an USKOK statement said on Thursday.

The investigation alleges that Bačić “used his social influence as a longtime director general of HRT” to obtain certain permits from the mayor.

Also among those arrested, according to media reports, was Denis Mohenski – known by the nickname “King of the Advent” – who is suspected of bribery and abuse of position during the allocation of stands at Zagreb’s popular Advent Christmas fair.

Tomislav Tomašević, the recently-elected grassroots-activist-turned-mayor of Zagreb,  confirmed that the police started an investigation early on Wednesday morning.

The Independent Balkan News Agency reported that Tomašević said the new city administration fully supports the independence of state institutions and will continue advocating for transparency in the city administration.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković also welcomed the investigation, saying that it was “proof that USKOK and the police are doing an active and concrete fight against corruption”.

Over the last decade, “USKOK has successfully prosecuted more than two thousand defendants,” according to Foreign Policy – which referred to the agency as “one of the world’s most formidable anti-corruption outfits”.

USKOK had also launched several investigations against former Mayor Bandić, who died from a heart attack earlier this year, after a series of corruption scandals during his term.