Politician and media mogul Fahrudin Radoncic pleaded not guilty of conspiring to obstruct justice and peddle influence at his arraignment before the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo on Wednesday.
Radoncic said that he was confident he would prove his innocence during the proceedings, describing the indictment issued against him as "imaginative and tendentious".
In early February, Bosnian prosecutorial authorities indicted Radoncic and his party colleagues from the Union for a Better Future of BiH: Bakir Dautbasic, Bilsena Sahman and Zijad Hadzijahic for conspiring to obstruct justice and peddle influence.
The prosecutorial authorities allege that Radoncic and the other indictees committed the said crimes in the period from mid-December 2015 to 12 January 2016. Radoncic allegedly exerted pressure on a witness in the case of Naser Kelmendi, leader of a Balkan crime ring on trial before a court in Pristina, trying to get the witness to protect him and Kelmendi against charges of organised crime and the murder of Ramiz Delalic, a Sarajevo underworld figure killed in 2007.
The investigation into Radoncic was subsequently expanded and he is also charged with influence peddling, namely he ensured the appointment of Nermana Hadzijahic Ambassador to Slovenia, as a favour to her husband, Zijad Hadzijahic, an employee of the US Embassy in Sarajevo, whom Radoncic had asked to check whether he was under investigation and whether his phone was tapped.
Radoncic is the leader of the Alliance for a Better Future (SBB), a deputy to the upper house of parliament and the owner of the highest-circulation Dnevni Avaz daily.
Evidence in the case was collected by phone tapping that was ordered by the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.