Proceedings that are taking place during our mandate mean only one thing - the time to deal with corruption is now!

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Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said at a cabinet meeting on Thursday that there was no such thing as the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) judiciary and that party affiliation or position did not protect anyone from accountability.

"During the first and now the second term of our government, judicial bodies have conducted their job independently. I believe that that is clear even to the most disbelieving, and if it isn't, they will come to realise that," said Plenković after President Zoran Milanović said that the arrest of three Osijek judges indicated a systemic disorder in the judiciary, which he called the HDZ's.

"The fact that DORH (Office of the Chief State Prosecutor) launches proceedings without political interference renders their argument, often heard in the public sphere, about the HDZ as the ruling party being corrupt and protecting corruption, invalid. That cliché has been the crux of their politics for years, yet each case launched against high-ranking officials proves them wrong," said Plenković.

He added that the number of procedures and people against whom procedures had been launched were proof that nobody was privileged and that party affiliation or position did not protect anyone from accountability.

"And that is why theories about the judiciary belonging to someone or (President Zoran) Milanović's false claims about the judiciary and the Osijek judges (arrested on suspicion of corruption) being the HDZ's are simply lies. That is difficult to advocate or defend because the facts speak differently."

Image of entire judiciary being corrupt not good for society

Plenković said that the fact that during the term of his government there was no pressure on the judiciary was making those accusing it of exerting political influence on the judiciary nervous. That refers "specifically to the President, who is lying. We will oppose that, resolutely and clearly," said Plenković.

Commenting on the apprehension of three Osijek judges, Plenković said that that was not good with regard to the fact that the judicial profession required the highest standards. "(Judges) are people who are supposed to protect us from those who violate the law. However, the fact is that corruption exists in all segments of society, including the judiciary."

"The thing that we can do is to most strongly condemn such phenomena and call on judicial bodies to resolve this case as soon as possible because the image about the entire judiciary being corrupt is not good for Croatian society. It is also simply not true and that is why it is essential that, without prejudging the outcome, we find out the truth as soon as possible," he said.

Text: Hina