news 24 Nov 12

Bosnian Serb Chief Tried to Bribe Me, Reporter Says

Domagoj Margetic, a journalist from Croatia, says the president of the Republika Srpska tried to bribe and threaten him not to reveal his alleged ties to the Hypo Bank corruption case.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Margetic, who wrote series of groundbreaking stories on the Hypo Alpe Adria Banka affair, said in Banja Luka that Dodik, President of the Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Serb entity, had offered him money - and had threatened him - not to link him to the story.

The journalist on Friday said that Dodik and his son were both implicated in a long-running corruption case in Croatia concerning the bank - and the Bosnian Serb leader had sent his men to offer money not to write about it, Anadolu Agency reported on Friday. They had also threaened him.

“I refused them all and reported that to the Bosnian State Investigative and Protection Agency for threats and offering bribes,” Margetic told the news agency.

He added that he had come to Banja Luka to refute Dodik's claims that his alleged links to the Hypo case were a lie and a product of "underground criminal circles working against him.

“It would be rude to reply to Dodik from Zagreb or Belgrade,” Margetic said. “I came to Banja Luka to say, 'You are a criminal, are involved in the Hypo case, and are under an international investigation over the case'.”

Margetic claimed that he had documentation backing his claims, saying he got them from a state prosecutor in Austria who recently announced he will be coming to Banja Luka to investigate the case.

The journalist claimed that German institutions are also involved in the investigation. He added that he was sure of his claims, recalling that he first opened the Hypo case in Croatia concerning the involvement of the former Croatian Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader.

“That is why I note that Dodik will end up like Sanader did,” Margetic said, standing in front of the Hypo Bank building in Banja Luka, because, he said, no one had offered him room for a proper press conference.

Activists from a local green initiative, “Park Je Nas” ["The Park is Ours"], from Banja Luka, several inspectors from the Interior Ministry and a few local lawmakers attended Margetic's briefing.

A Zagreb court sentenced Sanader on November 20 to three-and-a-half years in prison in the Hypo Alpe Adria Bank case. He was also jailed for seven years over the MOL-INA case. He was further ordered to pay a fine of 5 million euro.

Sanader was charged with taking half-a-million euro in bribes from Hypo bank in 1994 in order to allow the bank to enter the Croatian financial market.

He was also convicted of taking 10 million euro in bribes from the Hungarian oil company MOL, in order to give MOL a dominant position in the Croatian oil company, INA.

Sanader was elected premier in 2003 and 2007, and left office without explanation in 2009. He was arrested in December 2010 in Austria on an international arrest warrant and was extradited to Croatia in July 2011.

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