Justice Minister Ante Sprlje.jpg
Justice Minister Ante Sprlje
Photograph: HINA/ Lana SLIVAR DOMINIĆ/ lsd

Justice Minister Ante Sprlje says that the mention of 20 judges as a national security threat in a report by the Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA) shows that not the entire justice system is corrupt, as is often perceived by the Croatian public, but that only a small circle of individuals may be a problem.

Speaking in an interview with Hina at the end of his brief term in office, Sprlje said that he was leaving to his successor a series of measures that could ensure after the next government was formed that the justice system became an effective tool of citizens.

Given that the SOA report put emphasis on irregularities in the justice system, Sprlje was asked if the problem could be solved by the planned reorganisation of the State Judicial Council (DSV).

"The DSV will never be able to detect every problem among the judges, and it is not its function anyway. It should choose the best candidates for judges and court presidents. The purpose of amendments to the DSV Act is to make their selection more transparent and accessible to the public to show on the basis of what criteria candidates are chosen. As for the SOA report, it brings a novelty and that is that a government service has shown that it is not the entire judiciary that is corrupt but only a small circle of individuals who may pose a national threat in terms of corruption or the like," Sprlje said.

Asked if the very mention of judges in the context of a national security threat cast a very ugly shadow over the entire system, the minister said: "Yes, but I would say that a majority of judges can now say that it cannot be claimed that the entire judiciary is corrupt, but that there are possible indications about particular people, not all of them. I do not know details of how the intelligence system operates and I cannot know that because their work is secret after all, but I am glad when secret services actively work on exposing corruption. But even the secret service is not almighty, nor is any other justice body. If we think that they can sort out corruption, that is impossible even in the most developed and most transparent countries in the world. But any success in uncovering possible corruption should certainly be praised."

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