Bosnia’s Federation President Zivko Budimir released from custody

By bne IntelliNews May 27, 2013

The President of Bosnia’s Muslim-Croat Federation, Zivko Budimir, who was released from custody late on Friday, May 24, is due to return to his duties this week and sign a decree on the recently adopted privilege pensions law without which Bosnia cannot access its IMF funding, daily Nezavisne Novine reported.

Budimir’s lawyer Ragib Hadzic was quoted as saying the president is expected to also sign a decree on the appointment of judges to the Federation’s constitutional court.

The release of Budimir, who is charged with corruption, might ease the lasting political crisis in the Federation if he manages to quickly complete his tasks around the pensions bill and the appointment of constitutional court judges. The IMF said last week the publication of the law on retiring under favourable conditions in the Federation's Official Gazette is a must requirement for the consideration of the third review of Bosnia’s USD 512mn loan. The approval of the third revision would unblock a fourth loan tranche to the Balkan state.

The second issue is linked to the formation of a new government in the Federation, which has been blocked for almost a year. In the beginning of 2013 the house of peoples of the parliament blocked a no-confidence vote in the current cabinet. A decision to solve the crisis should be taken by the Federation’s constitutional court but its work has also been stalled for a long period because of a failure to appoint new members in it. 

The court judges should be appointed by the president only and with Budimir now out prison this issue should be finally resolved.

A month ago, on April 26, Budimir and 18 others were arrested by the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) over charges of organized crime, abuse of office, taking and giving graft. They were sentenced to one month in prison. Budimir in particular, investigated over his alleged role in pardoning prisoners in exchange for cash, was imprisoned because of fears he might flee the country as he has dual nationality, as well as due to the possibility to interfere with the investigation, witnesses and accomplices.

Bosnia’s constitutional court on Friday, May 24, partially approved Budimir’s appeal that his human rights to freedom were abused via the detention, and cancelled the imprisonment decision of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which on its turn released Budimir from prison straight away, two days ahead of his term in custody expires. The country’s Prosecutor’s Office, which initially ordered the arrest, said it will appeal the court’s latest decision and soon issue an indictment.

Nezavisne quoted Dzevad Radjo, a member of the Federation’s parliament, as saying the return of Budimir should alleviate the crisis but adding the president should file his resignation. “Being charged with so serious crimes and spending in custody nearly a month, while after that remaining indifferent is not right.” 

The Federation is one of the two autonomous parts that make up Bosnia and Herzegovina. The other one is the Serb Republic. The two entities have their own parliaments and governments linked via weak state institutions. 

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