Osijek County Court judges Darko Kruslin and Zvonko Vekic are facing disciplinary action after photographs from a USB stick which convicted football mogul Zdravko Mamic sent to the State Attorney have appeared in the media, the court said on Thursday.
Osijek County Court President Zvonko Vrban told reporters that he would launch disciplinary action against the two judges because it was his duty under the law.
Vrban recalled that in previous statements he did not wish to comment on the accusations and allegations that Mamic had made in Mostar, because apart from Mamic’s claims there was no evidence in that regard.
Vrban underscored that the “new photographs partly shed a completely different light, as they show judges Zvonko Vekic and Darko Kruslin associating with the convicted felon, Zdravko Mamic.”
“It is not normal or appropriate for judges who decide on the fate of other people … to associate with that sort of people and to come into contact with those persons outside the courthouse where they will decide on their fate,” said Vrban.
In an effort to shed light on the circumstances in which the two judges did that, Vrban asked judges Vekic and Kruslin to submit a written statement in reference to Mamic’s allegations and to explain the photographs that have appeared in the media, and he will then forward their statements to the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court President, and the State Judicial Council.
Asked whether regulations should stipulate whom judges must not associate with, Vrban said that this matter is regulated by the judicial code of ethics.
“However, we cannot control judges’ behaviour all the time and what they do in their free time, whom they meet and when. Now we have this information, we see that that has gone beyond the framework of the standard and regulated behaviour of judges. After this, we will launch disciplinary proceedings against judges Darko Kruslin and Zvonko Vekic”, said Vrban.
Asked whether these claims, despite coming from a morally and ethically questionable source, could taint the reputation of Osijek County Court, Vrban said that prior to this incident the court was known to be one of the best in Croatia.
“This, of course, cannot undermine the overall image, quality, correctness and professionalism of other judges,” said Vrban and added that he hopes the competent authorities will take all the necessary action to establish the truth despite Mamic’s questionable character.
Even though Mamic called Vrban a “criminal who will be replaced sooner or later,” Vrban said that he would not sue Mamic for defamation. “He is a convicted felon, convicted by Croatia’s judiciary and a fugitive from the law. I don’t see any point in suing him for defamation,” said Vrban.
After the Supreme Court upheld a first instance ruling sentencing Mamic to six and a half years in prison, speaking at a press conference in Mostar, Mamic accused Sessa and Osijek County Court Judges Zvonko Vekic and Darko Kruslin of corruption while calling the president of that court, Judge Zvonko Vrban, a criminal.