In an apparent attempt to strengthen the credibility of Bosnia's law enforcement agencies, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in Sarajevo opened the case of Chief State Prosecutor Goran Salihovic on Friday.
Salihovic was suspended in September 2016 after facing charges of corruption and abuse of power. He is the highest-ranking law enforcement official under investigation for allegedly giving false information to the courts, obstructing the work of colleagues and having professional conflicts of interest.
The suspended prosecutor, who is also a head of the country's anti-terrorism efforts, vigorously denied the charges, describing them as political backlash for his prior investigations.
"I am not corrupt, I did not take any money," Salihovic told VOA's Bosnian Service, reiterating comments he made on first appearing before the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. "I am nobody's enemy, and neither do I belong to a political party. I worked by the book, but maybe I started some things that some people did not like to be public, and wanted it to be stopped.
'Political pressure is continuing'
"Media launched [a witch-hunt] against me encouraged by the politics of the prosecutor, [and] his political pressure is continuing against me, but also against the whole judiciary of Bosnia, as we can see now," Salihovic added. "However, I have trust in the high court and prosecutor's office, and the disciplinary commission working on my case."
Hasib Sabotic, director of the Bosnian Anti-Corruption Agency, requested a full public airing of all documentation being used to build the case against Salihovic and other judges and prosecutors across Bosnian judiciary.
Details supporting the charges were not yet fully clear and transparent.
Srdjan Blagovcanin of Transparency International BiH said cases like Salihovic's might prove critical in assessing the ethical integrity of the state prosecutor's office.
"According to our information … in the past, there were various charges against judges and other Bosnian judiciary officials that were never investigated or completed," Blagovcanin told VOA. "We in Transparency Bosnia want to know if such an institution — primarily the state prosecutor's office — is actually able to fight corruption in other social spheres, or whether the institution itself is corrupt."
30 cases per year
Judicial records indicated about 30 cases annually are brought before Bosnia's Office of Disciplinary Counsel. Procedures are ongoing against two court presidents and three prosecutors of the state prosecutor's office. In one case a judge had "forgotten" to send a convict to jail for five years until the case was obsolete.
More than two decades since the end of the bitter Balkans war, Bosnia remains plagued with political and ethnic divisions that obstruct much-needed reforms, especially in the area of rule of law and public administration, critical for country's eventual membership in the European Union.
Transparency International reported Wednesday that Bosnia and Herzegovina had dropped seven places, to No. 83 among 176 countries, on its Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 survey.
This article was produced in collaboration with VOA's Bosnian Service.