POLITICS

The ”Respirators Case” worth 10.5 Million BAM of Taxpayers Money

It all began on April 25th, 2020, when respirators arrived at the airport in Sarajevo. Three days later, many questions arose. Breaking news was about the way the respirators were procured, how the selection of suppliers was made, whether experts were consulted, and what is the market value of these respirators.

The Prime Minister, the Federal Minister of Health, but also the Director of the Public Health Institute of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) were without comment. Only the company ”Srebrena malina” made a statement.

And then a story continued more seriously, the State Prosecutor’s Office took over the case from the Cantonal Prosecutor’s Office. Novalic, Solak, Hodzic found themselves behind the closed doors at the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) premises. This was followed by investigations and searches of the facilities of the Federal Administration of Civil Protection (in Bosnian: FUCZ) and the company ”Srebrena malina”. SIPA submitted the report to the Prosecution.

After the expertise of the Prosecutor’s Office, it was concluded that these respirators are not suitable for use in intensive care in the treatment of patients infected with the coronavirus. Also, a public hearing was expected.

In the meantime, Fahrudin Solak, the director of FUCZ, was suspended. The possibility of terminating the contract was also considered but in vain. And then a new concern – who did the specification of the purchased devices? This is exactly the question journalists got the answer to.

Both houses of the Federal Parliament demanded the immediate removal of Solak. And then the remaining 20 respirators arrived at the Sarajevo airport, whose payment of VAT was questionable due to the blockade of the account of the ”Srebrena malina” company.

The interesting fact is that none of the authorities was at the airport this time, except for the media teams.

The “Respirators” affair received an epilogue with the arrest of the Prime Minister of the FBiH, Fadil Novalic, and two key actors of this case, the director of the FUCZ, Fahrudin Solak, and the director of the “Srebrena malina” company, Fikret Hodzic.

The hearing was followed by a large number of media crews, who were waiting for the outcome of the Court at the proposal of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH to order one-month detention. It all lasted almost a whole night, but then the proposal was rejected.

Prohibition measures were imposed, which referred to the ban on meeting with witnesses and mutual meeting of suspects. For a while, t was not so frequently written in the media about the affair, and then the story about the purpose of respirators and their verification started again. FUCZ has announced a tender for their installation. After many setbacks, the verification was started by the company ”Verlab”.

Then, on December 4th, an indictment was filed against Fadil Novalic, Fahrudin Solak, Fikret Hodzic, the company ”Srebrena malina” and Jelka Milicevic. The indictment was confirmed by the Court. He thus charged Novalic and others with the criminal offense related to the procurement of 100 respirators. At the hearing on January 29th, the ACCUSED pleaded not guilty.

Meanwhile, the company ”Verlab” is completing the verification process without any details for the public. The FUCZ says that not all 100 respirators have passed the verification.

The Institute of Metrology of BiH claims that respirators can be used as stationary and mobile. The “Respirators” case, worth 10.5 million BAM, was continued with the last search, BHRT writes.

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