The Croatian Helsinki Committee (HHO) on Wednesday expressed shock at Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic's statement for RTL television concerning a traffic accident with two fatalities in Hungary caused by First Deputy PM Radimir Cacic, saying that such statements were seriously disrupting the three branches system of government and harshly attacking on the rule of law.
"A final verdict was mentioned. A final verdict is a final verdict. It's not a verdict handed down by a court in Kaposvar. I do not wish to make Cacic's position more difficult, to undermine the court, but it turns out that the Croatian government status is in the hands of a clerk, a judge of a Hungarian court of first instance. It can be looked at that way, but this is not the rule of law. The rule of law is not clicking a button. The rule of law is talking, the way we're talking now, calmly, and separating ethically neutral from ethically sensitive," Milanovic told RTL three days ago.
The HHO believes that the part about the judge of the Hungarian court of first instance was contentious and that it was undermining the court, compromising the legal system of the friendly neighbouring country and more than that.
"Any kind of comments on non-final verdicts in the media coming from state officials represent pressure on judicial authorities under Article 309 of the Penal Code and those making such statement should be fined in the amount of 150 daily wages or by up to six months in prison, the HHO said.
If the fate of the Croatian government "is in the hands of a clerk, a judge of a Hungarian court of first instance, it is only because the government has brought itself into that position, the HHO said.
Had a high state official of a previous government said something like this, a public condemnation would have followed, the HHO said.
Mr Milanovic cannot and must not be protected from criticism as it is a prerequisite for a democratic functioning of the society, the HHO said.