Outgoing Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic on Thursday confirmed that he had hired an attorney to prepare a private defamation law suit against Bridge spokesman Nikola Grmoja.

Ostojic intends to sue Grmoja who claims that there are indications that Bridge leader Bozo Petrov was illegally investigated by the PNUSKOK police anti-corruption investigators.

"The matter is very simple, this is a situation in which someone is publicly shaming someone else, accusing them without any evidence, naturally, I have taken steps," Ostojic told a press conference in parliament and underscored that this was a private suite and that it was up to institutions to estimate for themselves whether they would charge Grmoja.

He recalled that the USKOK anti-corruption office had on Wednesday stated that Grmoja's claims were incorrect and that Petrov had not been investigated in any way and that USKOK had previously denied Grmoja's claims that Bridge's MPs had been exposed to blackmail and pressure.

"That obviously did not stop him and he made even graver accusations that the minister ordered police officers to conduct certain actions that limit human rights. That's quite senseless and irresponsible from someone who obviously doesn't understand the role of a spokesperson and that he is speaking on behalf of someone else and that person claims to be a key factor in forming the government, that is, Mr Petrov," Ostojic said.

He explained that Grmoja's claims were a blow to the security system and is convinced that the motive behind all this is to obstruct the forming of the interior affairs and national security parliamentary committee, which can be assumed after hearing the latest statements by Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ's) official Gordan Jandrokovic that Ostojic should not be allowed to head that committee because that would be a conflict of interest.

"From yesterday's statement by Mr Jandrokovic it is clear why all this has been concocted, why a deposition that no-one but they have seen, was sent. The committee's and my message to all that is very clear - the law is precise Mr Jandrokovic. Enrol in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and then when you go into opposition you will be able to decide whether the law defines that the largest opposition party in parliament has the right to appoint the committee's chairman."

Even though he did not wish to confirm or deny that he would in fact chair that committee, Ostojic recalled that he had already conducted that duty and that that decision was up to the SDP bench. 

"If someone were to try and obstruct that, then that would truly be a vile violation of the law that precisely defines who appoint the chairman of the committee but we can expect anything from the HDZ and its maid, Bridge," he said.

Asked why he believe HDZ was bothered by him he said, "I would die of shame if I didn't bother them after four years, they whose sponsors and donors were arrested by DORH (state prosecutor)." 

He did not seem to think that it mattered that as the head of the committee he would have to deal with the deposition concerning Petrov's investigation. "As far as I can see, USKOK has clearly said what it had to, but a very serious discussion would be necessary for the committee to be able to inspect the work of an independent judicial body," he said. 

Bridge spokesman Nikola Grmoja on Thursday did not wish to comment on Ostojic's intention to sue him.

"I've said everything I had to about that and I'm not afraid of any suit," Grmoja told Hina.

Grmoja said that USKOK's findings were as expected, and that it would be difficult to disclose the truth given that it was an off-the-books operation.

He added that it was necessary to wait for the conclusions of the parliamentary committee for home affairs and national security with regard to the deposition submitted. 

Media has speculated over the past few days that the most likely candidate to chair that committee is in fact Ranko Ostojic.

Related stories

Ostojic: USKOK confirmed Grmoja and Petrov's allegations false

Petrov says USKOK hasn't summoned him for interview

Anti-corruption office says Petrov wasn't under surveillance

Interior minister: Petrov was not under surveillance

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