Justice Minister Ante Sprlje is confident that the Constitution may be amended by the end of this year so as to enable the removal of a statute of limitations on white-collar crimes and murky dealings during the process of privatisation and war profiteering.

Sprlje has said in his interview with Hina that during 2017 the Justice Ministry intends to make further steps in the overhaul of the system of courts, which was launched by his predecessor Orsat Miljenic.

Asked about plans for amending the Constitution in order to enable the punishment of crimes committed during privatisation of state-owned assets in the 1990s after Croatia gained independence, Minister Sprlje confirmed that the justice ministry would like to ensure the removal of a statute of limitations on war profiteering and criminal offences in the process of privatisation and "we are open to discussions on removing a statute of limitations on first-degree murders“.

"I think that it is possible to amend the Constitution this year. We can hear from all sides that all political options are willing to get the Constitution amended and that they want changes at least in segments where we agree that there are general values such as no statute of limitations on war profiteering  and crimes committed during privatisation."

Asked about the first concrete reform move given that the Bridge party that nominated him for the minister, had promised the reform of the judiciary in the election campaign, the minister said that "there will be a series of measures, including the activation of a council for the implementation of the reform of the judiciary, and enabling faster process of informing judges of court practice.“

He has said that the results which will be produced by those measures "will become evident in the middle of our term or towards the end", but „rest assured that some things will become evident in six months' time."

Asked about his opinion on the reform of reducing the number of municipal courts and municipal offices of State Prosecutor, which was launched by his predecessor, Sprlje said  he believed that such a reform was necessary and useful.

"However, the process is still under way and a comprehensive analysis of results of the reform is still lacking."

If such an analysis proves that the reform has been successful, we will no longer cope with that matter but continue monitoring the entire system, Sprlje said.

I am the fourth or the fifth minister who will deal with the rationalisation in the judiciary. I hope that the efficiency and the quality of the system will be tangible in the coming period, he added.

According to findings of a survey conducted by a judicial network of the Council of Europe, Croatia is among top European countries in terms of the ratio of judges to population, however, Croatia's justice system is marked by a high number of backlog cases. Asked to comment on that assessment, the new minister said that Croatia had a specific issue, that is the negligence of ownership and proprietary relations in the last 98 years, while other European Union memebr states were not burdened by this problem.

The introduction of socially owned assets and the system in the former Communist state undermined the order in ownership and proprietary relations established during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Sprlje said adding that many ownership disputes lasted too long and that Croatia had not managed to resolve this problem during the last 25 years since its independence.

As for his promise about crackdown on corruption, the minister said that he had already conducted talks with Chief State Prosecutor Dinko Cvitan on models for enhancing the prosecutorial authorities.

As for the problem of corruption that halts the economic growth, the minister said that the justice system could contribute to efforts to eradicate corruption by making procedures shorter and reducing backlog cases.

The minister said that corruption was at a very low level in the judiciary but perception of corruption in that system was high.

He announced measures to bring more order to the field of land registers and registers kept by land survey offices.

"Currently data in land books and in land survey books are being networked,“ Sprlje said adding that this would be also beneficial to the economy.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.