Six Employees of Sarajevo Canton Health Center Caught with Fake Diplomas, All Linked to the Same School
The school in Tuzla has been mentioned in several cases as an institution from which fake diplomas have originated, just like the identically named school in Sarajevo.
Last month, the Sarajevo Canton Prosecutor's Office received multiple reports regarding criminal acts related to document forgery within the Public Institution Sarajevo Canton Health Center.
As reported by Fokus, the Office for the Fight against Corruption and Quality Management of Sarajevo Canton discovered that six employees of the Sarajevo Canton Health Center possess fake diplomas. The cases were documented and forwarded to the Sarajevo Canton Prosecutor's Office for further processing.
Furthermore, it has been revealed that all six employees obtained their diplomas from the same school.
The diplomas in question are from the Mixed Secondary Traffic School in Tuzla and pertain to completed secondary vocational education.
Fake Diplomas in Brčko District
Azra Bavčić, the spokesperson for the Sarajevo Canton Prosecutor's Office, confirmed to Fokus that the mentioned reports have been received and are being processed. This follows the pattern of earlier reports from the Office for the Fight against Corruption and Quality Management of Sarajevo Canton, regarding this matter as well as other issues.
Based on our research, the mentioned secondary school in Tuzla has been implicated multiple times in reports of criminal complaints, indictments, and verdicts as an institution from which individuals obtained fake diplomas. It is one of several educational institutions consistently linked to cases of diploma forgery.
According to information obtained from the Office for the Fight against Corruption of Sarajevo Canton, they had previously identified five cases in which diplomas obtained from the mentioned school were not credible. With these new six cases, the total has reached 11, as established by the work of the Office for the Fight against Corruption. We reached out to the school via official email for comments, but have not received a response.
Emerging in a Series of Other Investigations
However, the Mixed Secondary Traffic School in Tuzla has also been mentioned in investigations by other institutions in the context of fake diplomas, just like the Mixed Secondary Traffic School in Sarajevo.
In 2015, the judiciary of Brčko District prosecuted a 54-year-old individual who was accused of procuring and selling counterfeit high school diplomas to residents of Brčko. Among them were diplomas from the Mixed Secondary Traffic School in Tuzla.
Two years prior, as many as 21 employees of the Government of Brčko District were prosecuted for having forged diplomas. Some of these individuals possessed fake diplomas from the Mixed Secondary Traffic School in Tuzla.
On April 11th of this year, the Cantonal Prosecutor's Office of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton filed an indictment against H. B. (born 1979) from Mostar, on the basis of well-founded suspicion of committing the criminal offence of document forgery.
He is accused of submitting a certified copy of a fake diploma issued by the Mixed Secondary Traffic School in Sarajevo when applying for a public call for the position of senior VKV auto mechanic in the Department of Traffic Technology of Weapons and Technical Protection of the Ministry of Interior of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton in Mostar on April 14, 2021. He was selected for the position. However, after verification, it was determined that the school did not issue him the mentioned diploma.
The Case of “Sakib Pleh”
According to data from the Office for the Fight against Corruption of Sarajevo Canton, dating back to March of this year, as many as 47 diplomas that were found not to be credible were claimed by individuals who had counterfeited them to have originated from the Sarajevo School of Traffic.
During the course of this activity, up until the preparation date of the analysis published in March of this year, the Office had filed criminal reports with the Sarajevo Canton Prosecutor's Office against a total of 95 individuals. These reports were filed on the basis of reasonable suspicion that these individuals had committed the criminal offence of “forgery of documents” by submitting (using) diplomas that were subsequently determined to be non-credible when entering employment.
When it comes to Sarajevo Canton, the highest number of forged diplomas were detected in the City Public Utility Company “Rad” (23), GRAS (14), the Waterworks (9), and Sarajevo Forests (8).
According to data from the previous year, the Sarajevo Canton Prosecutor's Office issued 12 indictments based on 79 criminal reports submitted by the Office for the Fight against Corruption of Sarajevo Canton, all related to non-credible diplomas.
One of the cases that Fokus reported on, which even resulted in a verdict, pertains to Sakib Pleh, the long-serving director of the Library for Blind and Visually Impaired Persons of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Sarajevo Municipal Court handed down an unenforceable verdict against him last year for the criminal offence of document forgery, sentencing him to a year and a half in prison.
Fokus also revealed last year that the Sarajevo Canton Prosecutor's Office had launched an investigation against Safet Baltić, the former director of the Canton Public Utility Company “Park”, for forging a diploma.
He was accused of using a diploma indicating completion of higher education studies in economics from the Faculty of Economics at the University of Sarajevo, allegedly issued on January 20, 1988, when entering employment at the Public Institution “Memorial Fund of Sarajevo Canton”. Subsequent verifications revealed that the diploma was not credible. We have learned that criminal proceedings against him are currently underway in the Sarajevo Municipal Court.
Ožegović: They are Well Connected
Damjan Ožegović from Transparency International Bosnia and Herzegovina states to Fokus that this issue is equally prevalent in both private and public educational institutions, and corruption in education, based on the experience of prosecutors in the past few years, falls under organized crime.
“So, the number of individuals involved is not small, and they are well connected, with the aim of gaining material profit. A positive step was taken in the Una-Sana Canton, where the Government accepted the initiative of the Task Force for the Fight against Corruption, which involved verifying the diplomas of employees in administrative bodies and all institutions established and funded by the Una-Sana Canton budget. An Instruction for diploma verification in Una-Sana Canton institutions was adopted. This instruction regulates the methodology for verifying the credibility of diplomas, coverage, objectives, and guidelines for verification, as well as the phases of conducting the review, and it is envisaged that the diplomas of all employees in institutions will be verified”, says Ožegović.
He emphasizes that the education sector is very susceptible to corrupt risks, especially in the area of employment, and that almost all educational institutions have become mere partisan spoils. From this, all other irregularities arise, including diploma trading. Therefore, it is crucial to strengthen legal support for potential whistleblowers and encourage them to speak out.