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New complications with the degree of Chief Justice

(Photo: printscreen)

By: Sara Bertoncelj / Nova24tv

Supreme Judge Branko Masleša is still “carefully guarding” his evidence of his internship at the Sarajevo District Public Prosecutor’s Office from the spring of 1975 to the summer of 1976. Many believe that the crown would not fall from his head if he would also present evidence to the Judicial Council and the public. But Masleša does not give in. The Supreme Court is also not any more talkative as it does not say why Masleša needed the special approval of the Republic Secretariat for Justice and the Organisation of Administration in BiH to take the bar exam. They say that this is a private matter – even though Masleša performs a public function. One would also think that by setting suspicious diplomas, a judge is deliberately diverting attention from more important issues. While the public is determining whether a star is missing from the seal, Masleša is still in his position, albeit perhaps as an illegal judge.

Branko Masleša recently explained to MMC that the original of the diploma has a dry stamp, which is why it cannot be seen on its copy. He also stated that in the publication 70 years of the Faculty of Law in Sarajevo 1946-2016 on page 231 he is listed among the graduates of this faculty, and according to an article in the Sarajevo newspaper Dnevni Avaz on January 10th this year, the competent inspectorate found that it was indisputable that he had obtained a diploma and the professional title of law graduate in accordance with the regulations in force at the time. The fact that Masleša probably has a diploma has been written about several times in the past by our media – but the third diploma shown by the Supreme Judge was even more unusual than the first two. The first two could be said to be an extract from the register, which means that his data is “pulled” from the register and printed on the diploma. Which would explain the newer font and any other anomaly that many have pointed out. According to Masleša, it is now clear that it was not an extract from the records, but a copy of the diploma, which complicates matters again. They are also complicated by the dry stamp, which finally appeared on the third, “original” diploma. If nothing else, the star is almost certainly missing.

It is not clear why Masleša would be so entangled with strange copies of his diploma, if the Sarajevo inspectorate also confirmed that it had reviewed his index, in which it found all the necessary exams and signatures of professors. One possible scenario would be that he wants to cover something up, and it is even more likely that he wants to divert attention. If the public is dealing with a degree, the bar exam may be forgotten – things are much more questionable about the latter. Masleša is also aware of this. He explained to MMC that the later law on traineeships from April 1980, which came into force the day before the first judgment was handed down at the Basic Court in Koper, also provided for a one-year internship, and Article 48 stipulated that a graduate lawyer who had two years of work experience in the legal field, if elected or appointed by December 31st, 1981, also met the conditions for professional competence to perform the duties and work of a judge.

The April 1980 Internship Act was not yet in force in 1979

But let’s not forget, Požareport recently published the only document that, according to it, we can really trust – the decision according to which Masleša was elected a judge in Koper, on December 26th, 1979. In the biographies that appeared online, it was stated that Masleša was elected a judge on April 1st, 1980, and somehow, he apparently said the same thing now for the MMC, although he wrapped it all up in the operative part of the first verdict and did not mention the election as a judge. At the time of his election, the 1972 law, which required two years of traineeship, was still in force. Even if the internship period coincided, there is still no legal basis for equating the bar exam in BiH with the Slovenian one – so this submission with dates is meaningless. Supreme Judge Jan Zobec recently pointed out that it is even more important that the Bar Exam Act of 1972 does not contain a provision that would equate the bar exams under this Act with bar exams passed under the laws of other socialist republics of the former SFRY – however it did equate some other exams with the bar exam, among them also the exam passed by YPA officers.

But let us not forget that Slovenia is still facing the problem of appointing judges who passed the bar exam in the former SFRY countries, while the public is determining whether the dry stamp of Masleša’s diploma is missing – all similar stamps in Yugoslavia are said to have this. Although the Supreme Court has already ruled on this issue – it has ruled on the validity of bar examinations conducted in other republics: “The Commissioner passed the bar exam in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1961, and there is no basis in Slovenian regulations for bar exams held in the republics of the former Yugoslavia to be recognised as state bar exams under the ZPDI,” the 2017 decision said, and in 2020, they also stated that the ZPDI does not stipulate that exams taken abroad or exams taken in one of the other republics of the former SFRY are recognised. Another problem arises with the intention of finally getting to the bottom of things. Namely, Vladimir Horvat pointed out that the law lacks the intended procedure, which would enable the Judicial Council to have the right to deal with such cases – that is, to verify the authenticity of judges’ qualifications.

Were they aware of the flawed legislation from the very beginning?

Dr Jože Pučnik was also supposedly aware of this problem already in 1994 at the session of the National Assembly with the first elections of judges for a permanent term. At the time when Masleša was also elected. At that time, he asked the president of the Judicial Council what options the Judicial Council has to correct possible wrong decisions or inappropriately or insufficiently verified decisions. So, is there any possibility that, after the National Assembly confirms the judge, any contradictory facts will be revealed. According to him, these possibilities were minimal, and we can also read on the social network that he did not want to take part in this vote – because the Judicial Council did not do its job in time, as required by law.

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