The saga surrounding the criminal sale of state land by the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton Government to the then young and “seasoned” forest cutter and future famous HDZ member Niko Marušić got a new epilogue.
The sale of controversial land, which is state forest land, in Kruševo, Pijesci and Gubavica locations on July 28, 2006 was done contrary to the Law on the Prohibition of Disposal of State Property (Official Gazette of BiH, 18/05, 29/06, 85/06, 32 /07, 41/07, 74/07, 99/07, 58/08 and 22/22) that prohibits disposal of state property. The Law also specifies rivers, forests and forest land that the BiH Constitutional Court’s decisions determined to represent state property, as well as that every decision, act, contract or any other legal instrument that disposes of property referred to in Article 1 of this law contrary to the provisions of this law, is considered null and void.
This is stated in the lawsuit filed by the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina represented by the attorney general Almina Pilav, which was filed again before the Municipal Court in Mostar against Herzegovina-Neretva Canton represented by the Cantonal Public Attorney’s Office Mostar and Nika Marušić as the second defendant, as to establish the nullity of the contract.
“Regarding your inquiry, we inform you that a lawsuit was filed before the Municipal Court in Mostar on January 17, 2024 by the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina, number 58 0 P 277 737 24 P, against Herzegovina-Neretva Canton represented by the Cantonal Public Attorney’s Office Mostar and against Nika Marušić as the second defendant, as to determine the nullity of the contract”, read the answer to Hercegovina.info.
The BiH prosecutor has in the lawsuit requested the contract between the Ministry of economy of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton and the buyer Niko Marušić to be declared null and void in order to 134 hectares of land to the real owner, the State of BiH.
The kind of togetherness that can only be seen at humanitarian events
The fact that the event of land grabbing and its sale for 0.04 KM/m2 to the then young and “seasoned” forest cutter Niko Marušić was planned to the smallest detail at all levels of government has been revealed by the time passed.
It has to be noted that 17 years have passed since the Government of Miroslav Ćorić (at that time a man from Dragan Čović’s inner circle) declared the general interest in converting the forest land and the Federation Ministry of Agriculture, headed by Marinko Božić, had on July 25, 2006 issued decision on forest clearing, which was the only condition for a direct sale between the Ministry of Economy of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, led by Samir Sunagić, and the buyer Niko Marušić.
The decision served as the only way to avoid auctioning the land and the opportunity for other potential buyers in the area of Kruševo, Gubavica and Pijesak to participate in the sale. Just two days after July 28, 2006, with the blessing of the commission that had set the price of the land at 4 pfennigs per square meter, which at that moment was hundreds of times less than the market price, and without waiting for the decision on deforestation to become final, since the decision provided for a 15 days deadline for appeals, the Minister of Economy of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton Samir Sunagić (SDA) signed a sales contract with Marušić on the sale of 134 hectares of land for BAM 55.336.
It has to be noted that the Cantonal Court in Sarajevo had declared the deforestation decision null and void on April 5, 2010. The ruling proved that a number of illegal actions were made in the procedure of passing this decision on deforestation. In line with the ruling the then Federation Minister Damir Ljubić issued a Conclusion on renewing of the proceedings, but Niko Marušić filed an appeal and a lawsuit to the Supreme and Constitutional Courts of BiH, which were dismissed.
Ten years later, Marušić is the director of the Fund for Environmental Protection in the same government that sold him 134 hectares of land for 4 pfennigs per square meter, while quite coincidentally, his advisor in the fund is Samir Sunagić, a former minister who had sold him the land. Although Marušić promised to plant vineyards, the locals had then rightly warned that Marušić’s ultimate goal was to convert agricultural land into construction land so that he and his “buddies” would become multi-millionaires overnight.
The time provided this true, because Marušić never planted vineyards; he would “plant” solar farms in the area of Gubavica and Pijesak. With the latest changes to the spatial plan of the City of Mostar, Mario Kordić pushed an additional 15 hectares of agricultural land into the Miljkovići business zone, and with the detailed regulatory plan for the business zone, he enabled Marušić to legalize the illegally built factory.
If the Municipal Court in Mostar, which is the only right thing to do, annuls the sales contract, Marušić would be left without the tomato factory in Kruševo.
The chief prosecutor of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton Zdenko Kovač did not see or was afraid to see what can be seen from Mars?
An organized event where the land was sold hundreds of times below the market price at that time despite the ban on disposing of state property where the team decided to go on a fishing expedition stating that the land is not state property and all this was not enough for the prosecutor at the time Zdenko Kovač to file an indictment based on a criminal report filed by the Association of Returnees from the Municipalities of Gubavica and Pijesci. We have learned that Kovač never informed the applicants of the criminal report that he had officially suspended the investigation, first against five people on September 8, 2009, and on April 20, 2012 against three people, which was his legal obligation, and thus he did not allow the applicants to file an appeal against the suspension of the investigation. It has to be noted that the current chief prosecutor of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, Zdenko Kovač, never responded to the inquiry of the portal Hercegovina.info about the status of the lawsuit.
Who was protected by the outgoing attorney general Mlađen Mandić?
Attorney general Ismet Velić, whose term of office expired on April 27, 2023, filed a lawsuit before the Municipal Court in Mostar on March 21, 2023, in order to determine the nullity of the sales contract between Marušić and the Ministry of Economy of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton. Mlađen Mandić took the office by the rotation on the position of attorney general . Only a few months later, and before leaving the office, Mlađen Mandić withdrawn the lawsuit. Mandić never answered us about the reasons for withdrawing the lawsuit, but Hercegovina.info is in possession of the document by which Mlađen, as the attorney general, withdrew the lawsuit.
The reason for withdrawing the lawsuit was the Decision of the Commission for State Property of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina No. 01-50-97/07 dated February 19, 2008 by which the property in question is not covered by the Law on Temporary Prohibition of Disposal of State Property. However, a look at the mentioned document clearly shows that it is an opinion, not a decision. Article 3 of the Law on the Prohibition of Disposal of State Property states that the state property commission established by the decision of the BiH Council of Ministers may, upon the proposal of an interested party, decide to exempt certain state property from the temporary ban, but cannot interpret what it does and what does not fall under the said prohibition of disposal of state property. The commission cannot interpret what is or is not subject to the ban, as it is the task of the law maker.