Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic on Wednesday testified in the trial of MP Tomislav Saucha, former chief-of-staff of former prime minister Zoran Milanovic, and government secretary Sandra Zeljko. Saucha and Zeljko have been charged with fraudulently acquiring some 1 million kuna (€135,000) by forging travel allowance claims during the time they served in the government.
In his testimony on Wednesday, Bozinovic said that the signature on two contentious claims entered as evidence is not authentic.
Saucha and Zeljko stand accused of claiming expenses for fake travel claims during the PM Milanovic cabinet in 2011-16. The prosecutors allege that Zeljko, who was a non-party government secretary, continued to forge claims during the terms of Milanovic's prime ministers Tihomir Oreskovic and Andrej Plenkovic in 2016.
Bozinovic, who used to be Plenkovic's chief-of-staff, said that although his job was to sign off on travel allowance claims that Zeljko would submit to him, the two claims presented by the prosecutors had not been signed by him.
A statement Bozinovic had earlier given to anti-corruption police Uskok was then read out in court, in which he said that the signatures, even though they look similar to his, actually differed in the way some letters of his name appeared in the signatures on the two claims.
He added that he knew that people listed in those claims had not travelled to the destinations specified in the forms.
Bozinovic added that he had only learned of the scam from reporters after they asked him about the findings of the state audit report for 2015.
In January 2016 Saucha returned to Parliament as an MP, where he formerly held a Social Democrat seat but now supports the HDZ-led parliamentary majority.