Bosnia regional PM jailed for embezzlement over COVID ventilators

Опубликовано: Friday, 07 April 2023 07:07

Two men, a Bosnian regional premier and a second man were sentenced on Wednesday (5 April) to up to six year imprisonment on charges of embezzlement in relation to the purchase of defective ventilators in 2020 for COVID patients by a raspberry-processing company.

Fadil Novalic was the prime minister of Bosnia’s Bosniak-Croat Federation. He was sentenced for abuse of office as well as violations of a law regarding public tenders.

The lawyers for all three men denied wrongdoing and said they would appeal the verdict. They remain free for now.

This is the first time a Bosnian senior official has been sentenced for embezzlement. Bosnia has been plagued with corruption scandals.

Vasvija Vidovic, Novalic’s lawyer, claimed that the case was staged by the media and that Novalic was sentenced because of political motivations.

Novalic was briefly detained along with Fahrudin Sokal, an official responsible for procuring equipment to fight the pandemic, as well as Fikret Hodzic (the manager of the company that procured ventilators), after initial reports by the prosecutors showed that the ventilators were not suitable for adequate treatment of patients in intensive-care units.

Hodzic was sentenced to five years and Solak to six years respectively.

Jelka Milicevic (Finance Minister) was accused of negligence in enabling ventilators’ purchases. She was acquitted.


The raspberry processor from Bosnia, Srebrena Malina was not licensed to import medical equipment. However, it was selected by the regional crisis headquarters to import the Chinese ventilators at 10.5 million Bosnian Marka ($5.8million) and other equipment.

This relaxation allowed direct bargaining with suppliers, rather than through public tender.

Novalic, who is still in office, heads the regional government after political bickering prevented a new administration from being formed following an election in 2018.

After a vote in October his party blocked the formation a new regional government, despite having dropped out of the ruling coalition at both state and regional level.

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