Cablegate: Croatia Pursuing Major Law Enforcement Reforms In

DE RUEHVB #0766/01 3080718
P 030718Z NOV 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Croatian law enforcement system is
undergoing a massive shake-up in
reaction to several high-profile, mafia-style killings in
Zagreb in October (Ref A and B) and
long-stalled initiatives to fight organized crime are now
quickly being implemented. These
initiatives include the formation of a national investigative
unit, referred to in the press as
the Croatian FBI, and adoption of new anti-mafia legislation
as well as a reshuffling of
leadership throughout the police forces. The new Ministers
of Justice and Interior highlighted
the new measures in an appearance before the Croatian Sabor
on October 29. END SUMMARY.

Leadership Changes at Police

2. (U) Immediately following the shooting death in central
Zagreb of a prominent lawyer's daughter on October 6, Prime
Minister Sanader replaced the Ministers of Justice and
Interior and the Director of Croatian Police (REF B). The
shake-up, which included the appointment of the former head
of the Intelligence service, Tomislav Karamarko as the new
Interior Minister, received positive media coverage.

3. (SBU) Karamarko and the new police director, Vladimir
Faber, previously chief of police in Osijek, are now in the
process of making staff changes. Faber has been particularly
outspoken, telling the press that many top-level police
officials had obtained their positions due to political
connections rather than professional qualifications, and that
this practice would have to end. He has followed up on this
rhetoric with a series of dismissals and appointments within
the police. New appointees include Boris Spudic, filling a
nearly one-year vacancy in the critical position of Chief of
the Criminal Police; Zlatko Sokolar as Chief of Police in
Dubravacko-Neretvanska county; and Ivica Tolusic as Head of
the Operational-Communications Center at the Ministry of the
Interior (MOI). Dario Dasovic is now in charge of the
Narcotics Department, Sanja Roguz is leading the Department
for Criminal-Intelligence Analytics, and Damir Kukavica is
heading of the Department for General Crime, Terrorism, and
War Crimes. Mato Blazanovic will lead the Department for
Witness Protection. Many of the new appointees -- including
Faber himself, who was an IV program participant -- have
participated in USG training programs and have a strong
working relationship with the Embassy.

The Croatian FBI

4. (SBU) The long-rumored "Croatian FBI," formally called the
National Police Office for the Investigation of Organized
Crime, suddenly became a reality when, on October 27, Faber
appointed Tihomir Kralj to head the office, with Zeljko
Brincka as his deputy. Kralj was previously head of the
Drugs-Crime Department and Brincka was chief of the
Crime-Analysis Department. On the same day, the police
announced that the Office had already begun operations.
Special police teams from the office will be working directly
with the Tax Administration and Customs Service to identify
the revenue streams and properties of mafia members. The new
Office has also been called the "USKOK police" due to its
close association with the work of the Office for Suppression
of Organized Crime and Corruption (USKOK) in the State
Prosecutor's office.

5. (SBU) Sources told Poloff that the new Office was actually
formed two months ago by decree of the minister, which a
source called a "sub-legal act," but staffing disputes had
left key positions unfilled. The Office, one source stated,
would be more effective and visible if it was established by
a law similar to that which established USKOK in the
prosecutor's office. Currently, the police Office does not
have formal contacts with prosecutors, who are unsure of its
structure, since there is no underlying law governing its
organization. At this point, it is unclear whether the new
Office has a permanent staff or consists of personnel who
will continue to work from their existing departments.

Legislative Changes

ZAGREB 00000766 002 OF 003


6. (SBU) On October 29, the new Ministers of Justice and
Interior, Ivan Simonovic and Tomislav Karamarko, appeared
before the Croatian Sabor to describe to legislators the
steps they have already taken since their appointment on
October 10 and to highlight changes they are proposing to
Croatian laws. Sources briefed Poloff separately on details
of the new measures. Several of them, such as asset
forfeiture procedures, already exist under Croatian law but
were not fully utilized prior to the murders, sources
claimed. Amendments to the criminal law and the law on
criminal procedure which have been advocated by USG-funded
assistance programs during the past few years, such as reform
of investigative procedures and strengthening asset seizure
laws, are part of the anti-mafia package currently in

USKOK Courts

7. (SBU) The creation of special USKOK courts to try
organized crime and corruption cases is also receiving
extensive media attention. The press has been critical of
both the courts and prosecutors for their inability to
conclude most of the corruption cases brought by USKOK to
date. The new Rule Book for Courts implements the
designation of specific courts for USKOK cases. These will
not be special courts, per se. Instead, the presidents of
the four largest courts, the county courts in Zagreb, Osijek,
Rijeka, and Split, will each designate a pool of judges who
are specifically authorized to hear cases brought by USKOK
prosecutors. The judges responsible for USKOK cases will
need to pass a special security check and obtain a security
clearance. In an agreement between Minister Simonovic and
President of the Supreme Court, Judge Hrvatin, all hearings
for pending USKOK cases must be scheduled at the designated
courts and begin within two weeks.

USKOK Investigations

8. (SBU) Minister Simonovic also announced that the new Law
on Criminal Procedure, which will shift responsibility for
pre-trial investigations from investigative judges to
prosecutors, will be implemented for USKOK before the rest of
the legal system. The law should take effect for USKOK in
July 2009, while other prosecutor's offices will not
implement the law in full until 2011. A source in the
prosecutor's office said there is an urgent need to train
USKOK prosecutors now in order for them to be effective when
their investigative authority expands next year.

Asset Forfeiture

9. (SBU) Asset seizure and asset forfeiture laws, according
to one source, are currently inadequate, as they only allow
prosecutors to target members of organized crime groups. The
new measures seek to broaden the scope of criminal acts which
allow for asset seizure, including all corruption cases,
trafficking in persons, and narcotics trafficking. In
addition, these asset seizure measures could be used against
individuals, reagrdless of whether they could be specifically
identified as members of criminal organizations. Minister
Simonovic announced that an amendment to the Croatian Penal
Code will take effect at the end of the year to allow all
assets to be forfeited by those convicted of organized crime
unless the convict can prove the legal origin of assets.

Banking Secrecy

10. (SBU) Minister Simonovic also announced plans to change
banking secrecy laws through amendments to the USKOK law.
Currently, banks can refuse to provide information to USKOK
about their clients' accounts. If an investigative judge
agrees with the USKOK request and the bank continues to
refuse to comply, the bank might receive a minimal fine. The
new amendment would do away with the account secrecy
protections in USKOK cases and will give organized crime
prosecutors easier access to banking records.

Police Force Restructuring and Expansion

ZAGREB 00000766 003 OF 003

11. (SBU) Interior Minister Karamarko told the legislators
that staff changes and restructuring of the police should be
completed within the next 30 days. He said that the work of
law enforcement groups will be more closely coordinated with
the intelligence services, which he headed until his current
appointment this month. He announced that 250 police officers
had already been reassigned to Zagreb to enhance security in
the capital. Finally, he said that the Interior Ministry
must increase its staff and toward that end, the police
academy will increase its admissions from 1400 to 2200

Looking for a RICO Act

12. (SBU) With the anti-mafia package receiving wide press
coverage, several media outlets reported positively about the
U.S. RICO Act, saying that it is a strict law which provided
excellent results in the United States in the fight against
the mafia. Several judges have also told Poloff privately
that they would like to see a law similar to RICO for

USG Assistance/ICITAP Advisor

13. (SBU) Post, in close coordination with the ICITAP
Organized Crime Advisor for Croatia, is developing an action
plan to address the changes to the law enforcement system and
help the police strengthen their anti-mafia activities.
Several key persons involved in drafting or implementing the
new anti-crime legislation have close relationships with the
Embassy and the ICITAP program, and many of the new measures
reflect advice received through USG-funded programs. (NOTE:
The ICITAP program is currently funded through April 2009,
when the program is scheduled to end. The ICITAP advisor
maintains an office at the MOI. We are currently seeking
appointments with key policy makers such as Faber and Kralj
to confirm their receptiveness to continued US training and
advice on fighting organized crime. Assuming they are
receptive, Post will be seeking funds to extend the ICITAP
program for one year beyond April 2009. END NOTE.)


14. (SBU) Croatia had some effective tools, such as USKOK, to
target organized crime, but an inability to coordinate
closely with the police and delays in getting cases through
the courts have hampered the fight. The new leadership at
Justice, Interior, and within the police appears to be making
progress in putting long-needed reforms in place. The recent
murders and accompanying media frenzy and calls for action
provided the environment for this progress. Despite the rush
to show action, the government's response to date benefits
from the considerable preparatory work already done on many
of these issues, and is producing law enforcement structures
with the potential for long term benefits for Croatia.

© Scoop Media

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