mijo crnoja.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Damir SENČAR /ds

Lawyers Jadranka Slokovic, Cedo Prodanovic and Jasna Novak offered the government verbal and not written advice concerning the situation of former Veterans' Affairs Minister Mijo Crnoja and the government paid HRK 2,187.50 (approximately EUR 300) for their services, notes a government response to Social Democratic Party (SDP) MP Pedja Grbin who had queried about the arrangement with the lawyers.

Lodging the query, Grbin referred to the Freedom of Information Law (FOI) and the government responded in the prescribed time. However, Grbin said that he was not satisfied with the government's response and that he would request a further explanation.

"The main conclusion from the government's reply is that Karamarko and the government have presented a series of untruths about the procedure surrounding Crnoja's resignation and the engagement of attorneys, lest I say, lied. That evening when the minister stepped down, First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko waved a piece of paper in which he claimed, implied that Crnoja was not responsible for anything. However, that paper allegedly is what the attorneys presented concerning the consultations over the Crnoja case," Grbin told Hina.

He warned that the government's reply however, notes that the attorneys did not present a written opinion but exclusively verbal. "What the contents of that opinion are, has not been answered and I will continue with this procedure with the Information Ombudswoman to obtain that information," Grbin said.

He recalled that the government was adamant that the legal services were free of charge, or as the government's press release said, "considering that this referred exclusively to one-off services of an advisory nature by external associates, legal experts, Jadranka Slokovic, Jasna Novak and Cedo Prodanovic as participants in the expert discussion together with legal experts of the Patriotic Coalition and Bridge, their services were completely free of charge."

"The reply notes that the services were paid for after all. The price of the services is not significant, what is significant is that the information about the payment emerged after the government expressly stated that the services were free of charge. Why has that detail now been changed," Grbin asked and announced that he would continue to send queries to the government because the reply he received was insufficient.

Mijo Crnoja stepped down late January, a little more than a week after he took office, following media pressure due to a scandal over land for his future house and a loan granted to him.

In deciding Crnoja's fate, the government called for the advice of legal experts and the government then claimed that the attorneys had been engaged free of charge. The Croatian Bar Association however warned that in that case the attorneys could face disciplinary action as free legal aid can only be offered with the approval of the bar, which the three had not requested.

Related stories

Ex-PM released from investigative custody

Latest news

Macedonian president blocks opposition's PM candidate

Macedonia's President Gorge Ivanov on Wednesday blocked the Social Democratic (SDSM) opposition leader Zoran Zaev from becoming prime minister, accusing him of intent to violate the country's constitution.

North Korea dismisses 'absurd' claims over death of Kim Jong Nam

Pyongyang on Wednesday dismissed as "the height of absurdity" official accounts of the death of Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

President visits car glass factory in Lipik

During her visit to Lipik on Wednesday, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic visited the Lipik Glas factory which specialises in the manufacture of glass for high-end cars.

Hong Kong firm buys London's 1.1-billion-pound 'Cheesegrater' tower

A Hong Kong-based firm on Wednesday exchanged contracts to buy central London's iconic "Cheesegrater" office tower for 1.135 billion pounds (1.4 billion dollars).

Taliban assaults in Kabul end with 16 dead, officials say

At least 16 civilians and security forces were killed when Taliban suicide bombers targeted Afghan security facilities at two locations in Kabul on Wednesday, officials said. 

Top US general welcomes planned military boost in Lithuania

The head of US military forces in Europe on Wednesday welcomed Lithuania's move to boost military spending and personnel.

Dutch anti-Islam party slides to 2nd place in polls ahead of election

With just two weeks to go until national elections, the Netherlands' Islamophobic Party for Freedom (PVV), headed by firebrand populist Geert Wilders, has lost its top position in opinion polls for the first time this year.

Indictment upheld against former Defence Ministry official in aircraft overhaul case

The Zagreb County Court on Wednesday upheld an indictment against Josip Covic, former chief of the Defence Ministry Department for Aircraft Repairs and Maintenance, for soliciting a bribe of EUR 50,000 from Ivica Josipovic, representative of a Ukrainian company that had overhauled Croatian MiG fighter jets.

Five scenarios for the future of the European Union

The European Commission presented a paper Wednesday on the future of the European Union after Brexit, calling on EU leaders and the European Parliament to decide how the bloc should evolve by 2025.

HGK: Foreign debt reduced by EUR 3.3 billion y-o-y

According to data from the Croatian National Bank (HNB), Croatia's gross foreign debt at the end of November 2016 amounted to 43.8 billion euro, which is 3.3 billion or 6.9% less than in November 2015, while the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) estimated that the debt-to-GDP ratio at the end of 2016 could fall under 100% for the first time in 7 years.

Croatian Constitutional Court to announce its ruling on abortion Thursday

Constitutional Court President Miroslav Separovic will announce on Thursday a ruling on a complaint of unconstitutionality filed against a law which regulates the right to abortion and which dates back to 1978, the Constitutional Court said.

Ukrainian rebels declare business takeovers as blockade tensions rise

A major Ukrainian rebel group said Wednesday that it was taking over dozens of businesses operating on its territory, as nationalist activists enforce a blockade that has cut off trade with the rebel-held east for a month.

Gabriel: NATO defence spending goal is "unrealistic" for Germany

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Wednesday underlined the importance of the NATO-mandated rule on defence spending, but said it was "unrealistic" that Germany would reach the goal of spending 2 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Parliament endorses amendments to construction act

Although parliamentary caucuses on Wednesday supported in principle, amendments to the law on construction which, according to Construction and Zoning Minister Lovro Kuscevic, "will significantly improve the construction system, accelerate and facilitate investments, notably the strategic ones," the Opposition submitted a number of suggestions and criticism.

Afghanistan district falls to Taliban after fierce fighting

Taliban militants took control Wednesday of a district in Afghanistan's troubled north-eastern Baghlan province, local officials said.

NGO worried about turnaround in Croatia's foreign policy on women's rights

The nongovernmental organisation Platforma 112 held a news conference outside the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, expressing concern about a turnaround in Croatia's foreign policy in the field of women's human rights and rights of sexual minorities.  

Festival of La Francophonie to be held in Croatia in March

The Festival of La Francophonie will be held in 14 Croatian towns throughout March to promote French culture and cultural diversity.

Bosnia divided over Independence Day celebration

A half of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday observed 1 March as the country's Independence Day in memory of the 1992 independence referendum when the vast majority of citizens voted for severing all ties with the then Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY).