josip buljević.jpg
Photograph: EPA/Remko de Waal

Defence Minister Josip Buljevic on Thursday said military security and military police staff had provided the prosecutorial authorities with data they had collected regarding a scandal concerning the overhaul and procurement of MiG-21 aircraft, adding that it was up to the prosecution to carry out an investigation.

After presenting a plan for public procurement for the Defence Ministry in 2016, Minister Buljevic told reporters that those responsible for the scandal would not go with impunity "if their responsibility for the case is established."

The minister also promised that a system would be set up to prevent recurrence of such cases, and ruled out that the latest events would lead to stripping the Croatian armed forces of its air force.

The Military Security and Intelligence Agency and the Military Police have recently found out that it is necessary to re-examine the overhaul and procurement of MiG-21 aircraft, the Defence Ministry said this past Tuesday, adding that tasks were being performed with existing resources and that Croatia's airspace was under control and safe. The ministry said it would continue to act in line with the valid legislation and the demands of relevant state bodies because of serious indications of worrying actions which could affect Croatia's defence readiness.

The defence minister, in coordination with the military chief-of-staff, has set up an expert commission to examine if the said aircraft are technically serviceable and could be used, the ministry said, adding that the commission has proposed measures that need to be taken.

A few days ago media outlets reported that the Military Police were conducting a large-scale investigation into the overhaul of Croatia's MiG-21 combat aircraft in Ukraine due to irregularities and suspicion of corruption. In July 2015, Ukraine delivered 12 overhauled aircraft to the Croatian Air Force and after eight months it has only three at its disposal, as five have been withdrawn, according to the media.

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