Vote-sellers from Brčko remanded in custody
Elvir Saletović and Sanel Pengić arrested in a police operation “Voter” remanded in month-long custody. They were arrested after being exposed by CIN reporters for vote trading in Brčko.
Vote-sellers, Elvir Saletović and Sanel Pengić arranging a vote-buying with candidate Abdulah Iljazović (Photo: CIN)
Story by: Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIN)
Brčko District Basic Court ordered one-month detention for vote traders Elvir Saletović and Sanel Pengić. Brčko District Prosecutor’s Office holds them suspect of violating the freedom of choice of voters.
Saletović and Pengić were arrested on November the 13th in the police operation “Voter”, after they were exposed by CIN reporters. Posing as party activists, the CIN reporters organized a meeting between the two of them and Abdulah Iljazović, the candidate of the Narod i pravda in the Local election held on November 15.
Following the exchange of short text messages, they met in a café at a gas station in Brčko. Iljazović was asked to pay BAM 6,500 for 130 votes, and Saletović and his partner, Sanel Pengić committed to finding voters whom they will pay BAM 50 per vote. They would keep part of the money for themselves.
“You – BAM 1,300! I make a copy of the list (…) and tell [them] whom to vote for. On the 13th you’ll get the list. You give 40 (BAM, author’s note). I’ll give it to a lad, you understand, I have two lads”, Saletović offered to buy votes a few days before the BD Local Election.
Saletović and Pengić were remanded in custody due to the suspect’s potential to conduct a criminal offense and exert influence on witnesses, and thus interfere with the criminal proceedings.
With Saletović and Pengić in custody, the number of detainees suspected of crimes committed in connection with the election process in the BD area has risen to nine. Upon a motion of the Prosecutor’s Office, the Court extended the custody to seven suspects for election abuse, among which three deputies of the BD Assembly. They planned to misuse the votes of at least 280 fellow citizens by registering them for an absentee ballot.
Residents of Brčko villages told CIN reporters that they knew the arrested, and some of them easily believed they would get jobs in public institutions in exchange for their votes. The arrested were mostly deceiving their family members or neighbors.