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Bosnians Protest Against Corruption In Judiciary After 'Bribe' Video

Protesters rally in front of the building of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council in Sarajevo on May 29.

SARAJEVO -- Hundreds of people have staged a protest in Sarajevo after a video emerged purportedly showing the head of Bosnia-Herzegovina's top judicial body negotiating a bribe.

The demonstrators in the Bosnian capital on May 29 called for the resignation of Milan Tegeltija, the head of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), which appoints, dismisses, and oversees the work of all the country's judges and prosecutors.

Protesters gathered outside the HJPC office, with some holding Bosnian flags and others shouting “resign” and “justice.”

The demonstration was attended by Security Minister Dragan Mektic, who told the crowd: "There is no security and economic development without justice."

The protest came after a video emerged last week appearing to show Tegeltija meeting with businessman Nermin Alesevic to discuss his case.

The late-night meeting in a bar was also attended by Marko Pandza, an officer at Bosnia's State Investigation and Protection Agency.

Tegeltija has denied negotiating a bribe and said the video was intentionally cut short to make it look like he was promising a favor to Alesevic in exchange for money.

Alesevic said he told prosecutors that he had shot the video in November 2018 to prove what he said was the extent of corruption in the judiciary.

He said he had made several formal complaints but said the HJPC failed to investigate them.

In the video, Tegeltija appeared to ask Alesevic for the name of the prosecutor working on his case and promised to "look into it."

After leaving the meeting, Alesevic appeared to hand around 1,000 euros ($1,115) to Pandza, who promises to "give it to him," in an apparent reference to Tegeltija.

"You've seen the man. I am 100 percent certain he'll sort it out for you," Pandza said in the video after taking the money.

Corruption in Bosnia is "widespread" and the fight against it is "hampered by a lack of harmonization of legislation across the country and by weak institutional cooperation and coordination," according to the European Commission.

With reporting by AP and AFP