Zoran Milanovic, who was recently elected Croatian president, is supposed to testify on Monday before Zagreb County Court in the trial dubbed travel expense scam in which Tomislav Saucha, who was Milanovic's chief of staff during his premiership, and his secretary, Sandra Zeljko, are implicated.
At the start of their trial, Saucha and Zeljko pleaded not guilty to the charges of falsifying 125 travel orders and defrauding the state budget of HRK 960,000 (€130,000).
Saucha is charged with falsifying travel orders in collusion with Zeljko, who the prosecution alleges continued doing so after Saucha left office.
Milanovic will take a witness stand in this case due to the fact that that Saucha was his chief of staff while Milanovic served as the prime minister, and due to the fact that some of the false travel orders referred to made-up travels ostensibly involving Milanovic's special advisors, the Vecernji List daily said on Sunday.
Some of those former advisors of Milanovic already took a witness stand in this trial and one of them, historian Neven Budak, told the court in late 2019 that someone had forged his signatures on 44 travel orders.
"At the time when I was the prime minister's special advisor on science and education I travelled only once, to Sydney, when a Croatian language department was opened there. When I returned, secretary Sandra Zeljko told me that I should not write any report or calculate the costs, which I found odd because as the dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences I knew how travel expenses are calculated," Budak told the court on 22 November 2019.
Sinisa Petrovic, a former special advisor to former PM Milanovic, said that during the investigation in the case he had checked his travel orders and signatures and realised that those orders referred to trips in 2015 and 2016 which he did not go on and that the signature on the orders was not his.
The Vecernji List underscores the fact that Milanovic is the first president-elect to testify before a court. The daily newspaper recalls that former heads of state, Stipe Mesic and Ivo Josipovic, were also summoned by courts to testify in trials, however, they gave testimonies after their terms as presidents.