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01.19.16

SLAPP-Happy EPO Vice-President Željko Topić Loses Croatian Defamation Lawsuit — AGAIN!

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Case over alleged bribery resurfaces, lost by Topić

Audi EPO

Summary: Topić has just lost — yet again! — a case over claims about ‘missing’ cars (related to a famous case in Croatia, one that landed several high officials in Zagreb’s prison, including the Prime Minister of Croatia)

THANKS to our invaluable sources in Croatia (and also outside Croatia), we now have an update regarding the Croatian defamation lawsuit, initiated by Topić in an effort to silence a legitimate critic who spoke to officials (very much like the suspended judge at the EPO, who is also alleged to have spoken about Topić’s alleged crimes to European officials). Some local (Croatian) reporters refer to Željko Topić as Ivo 'Sanader’s Protégé' (Sanader is in prison now).

Techrights has done much of the (usually exclusive) English language overage about this whole scandal before, including this one case in particular (there are reportedly more cases). In chronological order, here are some of the articles we wrote about this subject:

Here is some of the latest information about the famous (or should that be “infamous”) Croatian defamation lawsuit.

Following the Judgment of the Municipal Criminal Court delivered on the 28th of January (2015) which acquitted Vesna Stilin was of the charges raised against her by Topić, Topić filed an appeal.

According to available information, he requested the Appeal Court to remit the case to a different judge for a retrial.

The Appeal Court decided that the case should be sent back to the same judge at the court of first instance (Marijan Bertalanić) for the correction of some minor formal errors relating to the citation of the applicable provisions of Croatian criminal law.

In the mean time, Topić ditched his original lawyer Janjko Grlić of the prominent and politically well-connected Zagreb law firm Gajski, Grlić, Prka & Partners and switched to another well-known Croatian law firm Šerić and Šerić operated by Mr. Branko Šerić and his son Aljoša Šerić [1, 2].

When the defamation case against Vesna Stilin was reopened before judge Marijan Bertalanić, Topić requested the hearing of further witnesses and the judge allowed this.

At a Court hearing on the 23th of September (2015), Topić was represented by Aljoša Šerić but didn’t appear in person.

The witnesses which Topić had requested to be heard turned out to be a disaster for him.

  • The first witness was a former chauffeur at the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office who excused himself from attending the hearing due to health problems.
  • The second witness was an employee of the SIPO who said that she didn’t know anything about the subject of the hearing. She explained that she had only joined the SIPO after Stilin’s departure so that she had no direct knowledge of the conflict between Stilin and Topić.
  • The third and final witness was Ms. Ljiljana Kuterovac, the current Director-General of the SIPO and Croatia’s representative on the EPO’s Administrative Council who is said to Topić’s protegée. Kuterovac said that she understood the subject of the hearing as she had been informed about it by Topić. When asked about the public lending right (PLR), she claimed that the SIPO had done everything necessary for its implementation in Croatia. However she admitted that the PLR was outside her area of expertise and that she didn’t know the precise details of the conflict between Stilin and Topić.

A final court hearing was scheduled for the 18th of December (2015). Topić and his lawyer didn’t appear for this hearing with the excuse that Topić had official duties that prevented him from attending.

The hearing was rescheduled for the 14th of January, 2016 (that’s just a few days ago).

Despite having been duly summoned, neither Topić nor his lawyer turned up for the January hearing. The judge was surprised and wondered what was going on as Topić had failed to notify the Court of his non-attendance. In the end, a decision to discontinue the proceedings under Article 401 par. 2 of the Croatian Criminal Procedure Code was issued.

Unless he decides to appeal the decision, it seems that Topić’s defamation proceedings against Vesna Stilin are now closed.

A copy of the minutes of the court hearing has been sent to us along with an English translation. Here is the original in Croatian [PDF] and a translation into English (with original structure preserved) [PDF]. For those who don’t like PDF files, here is the somewhat flattened text as HTML:

REPUBLIC OF CROATIA
Municipal Criminal Court in Zagreb
Ilica – Selska, Ilica 207

File ref. no.: 7. K-586/15

MINUTES
of 14 January 2016

Present for the Court:
Marijan Bertalanić
(Presiding Judge – Judge)

Ankica Zorić
(Registrar)

Criminal case:
Private prosecutor: Željko Topić

Defendant: Vesna Stilin

For the criminal offence pursuant to
Article 200/2 et alia of the Criminal Code

The presiding judge opened the hearing at 13:35 and announced the subject matter of the trial. The presence of the parties was established as follows:

1. For the private prosecutor [Željko Topić] – nobody, legal representative of the private prosecutor, Branko Seric – nobody
2. Injured party:
3. Defendant: Vesna Stilin, legal representative of the defendant, attorney-at-law Zoran Životić
4. Witnesses:

It is established that the summons issued to the private prosecutor [Željko Topić] was returned with an annotation from the courier “notified, did not collect delivery” and that the duly summoned legal representative of the private prosecutor, attorney-at-law Branko Seric was not in attendance.

The Judge delivers the following

DECISION

Pursuant to Art. 401 par. 2 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the criminal proceedings against the defendant Vesna Stilin in the matter of the private prosecution by Željko Topić from 4th February 2011 are discontinued. Completed at 13:39.

Judge:

Registrar:

So Topić didn’t even show up in a SLAPP case that he himself had initiated. We already explained here before why we believe this wasn’t his first SLAPP action (in an effort to cover up abuses). Months ago I too became a victim of these ugly tactics.

While this case, on its own (there are reportedly more), does not prove criminality, it does serve to disprove claims that allegations of criminality are false. In other words, Željko Topić cannot effectively defend himself from Stilin’s accusations, which definitely lends credibility to these accusations. Based on the bizarre apology posted by a key source (similar to the EPO’s demands from me), we have reasonable grounds for suspicion that Topić went on an expedition to silence his exposers, to the point of threatening them with defamation lawsuits (so that they delete/remove incriminating evidence). That’s what out-of-control rich people tend to do when they cannot win an argument. Is Battistelli going to announce this decision to his staff in an internal communiqué or will he just deceive the staff by omission again?

As a side note, Topić’s new lawyer, Branko Šerić, is known in Croatia for his role as a Defence Counsel in the case of Vinko Martinović before the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. See the details here [PDF]. More recently, he has acted as defence counsel in a number of high-profile cases involving allegations of corruption during the Sanader era such as the “Maestro” [1, 2] and “HEP” cases [1, 2]. Aljoša Šerić is something of a minor celebrity in his home country. Apart from his membership of the legal profession, he pursues a parallel career in music and has played with the Croatian groups “Ramirez” (band) and “Pavel“.

“In a state where corruption abounds, laws must be very numerous.”

Tacitus

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