Prime Minister and leader of the ruling centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Andrej Plenkovic, said on Tuesday he was certain the media reports linking HDZ vice-chairman and Deputy Parliament Speaker Milijan Brkic to information leaks from police investigations was not harming the party's reputation.
The HDZ is a respectable party, leading in all relevant public opinion polls, Plenkovic told reporters ahead of a meeting of the HDZ parliamentary group.
These long-winded stories in the media create a certain atmosphere, but they do not have anything to do with the party's policy or its current leadership, and especially with the government's activities, he added.
Plenkovic said he had spoken with Brkic a few times and that they were in touch. As for Brkic's statement today that they spoke daily, he said it was made in the context of insinuations that this was an intra-party conflict.
The text message affair should be cleared up as soon as possible, he said, adding he expected the police, as well as the State Prosecutor’s Office (DORH) to do their job.
As for media reports linking Brkic to information leaks from a police investigation into an elite prostitution ring in 2011, Plenkovic said "Brkic gave a statement to DORH today and I believe he explained everything he needed to explain about that at the right place."
Brkic denied any wrongdoing, and has insisted that the scandal is targeting him as part of internal fighting in the ruling HDZ party.
After being interrogated on Tuesday morning, Brkic said "it was sad" to see the media blame him for attempts to undermine a police investigation which eventually resulted in arrests and in a court conviction.
Brkic has been named in articles published by Nacional weekly recently, citing a file documenting an internal affairs investigation which had discovered that confidential information was leaked to suspects in the case. At the time, Brkic served as deputy chief of police.
Although the interior ministry said the file had been forwarded to the state prosecutor's office in 2011, the current chief state prosecutor Drazen Jelenic said last week that the file is now nowhere to be found and announced efforts to reconstruct the case file - although he also dismissed media speculations of a cover up.
Plenkovic said it remained to be seen whether it was time to convene the National Security Council, adding that everything that was being done to reconstruct the missing case file “seems right and professional.”