Croatia Removes Security Chief Amid Phone Tapping Scandal

Croatian leaders have removed the country’s head of national security following a phone-tapping scandal, while insisting the police did not violate any laws.Croatian President Ivo Josipovic and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said on Monday they had decided to remove Petar Misevic as head of the Office of the National Security Council and to appoint Dragan Lozancic as new director of the Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA). They added that they would announce shortly who would succeed Misevic.

The two leaders held a joint press conference on Monday to address a scandal involving the monitoring of telephone calls of officials and businessmen, saying that the police had not violated the law in the course of their duties.

The press conference, held in the President’s Office, was prompted by a newspaper article on the unauthorised print out of telephone records concerning senior intelligence officials and executives of the Agrokor food and retail group.

“We have considered the developments about which there have been different reports and different views, and based on the information available, we have concluded that there was no violation of the law in the application of certain measures which are provided for under the law and which are made available to relevant state bodies, notably to the Ministry of the Interior,” Josipovic said.

Milanovic said that the matter should be considered by the Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs and National Security.

The two officials said there was a difference between the secret monitoring of telephone calls and the inspection of printouts of telephone records, with the latter being a milder form of intrusion of the state into people’s privacy.

The president called for a thorough investigation and for the publication of its findings in due course, adding that the investigation into the printouts of phone records would be conducted in accordance with the law.

“It is our permanent concern to see to it that measures available to state agencies are under constant and efficient control so as to prevent any threat to human rights or any irregularities,” Josipovic said.

“In order to rectify the deficiencies in the functioning of the system, the prime minister and I have decided on some personnel changes which are necessary to develop the system in the spirit of the Constitution and laws, to implement all measures in the struggle against organised crime and also to ensure protection of human rights and law enforcement,” he added.

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